Wednesday :: May 5, 2010

GOP Base Losing Steam

by Deacon Blues

It looks like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have put their 2010 candidates in a tough spot over the health care reform law. The message and talking points from both of them for GOP candidates to follow in trying to unseat Democrats is “repeal and replace.” Yet Ed Gillespie’s own group and pollster now reports that such a message, while popular with the far right base of the GOP this fall, would fail to attract the support of independent voters, who support elements of the bill and would only want to modify the bill rather than repeal it.

The GOP cannot afford to straddle this line between repealing and modifying the bill, for fear of losing the support of their base, who’ve been teased with the prospect of repealing the law. As for the enthusiasm of GOP voters heading into this fall’s election, Gallup tells us this morning that it’s already dissipating from the spike seen right after passage of the health care reform law.

Republican registered voters' enthusiasm about voting in this year's midterm elections has declined significantly in recent weeks. As a result, Republicans' advantage over Democrats on this measure has shrunk from 19 points in early April to 10 points in the latest weekly aggregate.
In late March and early April, after Congress' passage of healthcare reform, both Republican and Democratic registered voters became more enthusiastic about voting in this year's elections. Republicans' enthusiasm peaked at 54% "very enthusiastic" in late March and early April, but is 43% in the latest weekly update, from April 27-May 2 -- essentially where it was before healthcare passed. By contrast, Democrats have more or less retained the slightly higher level of enthusiasm they showed right after the healthcare bill milestone.

The more GOP candidates promise to repeal and replace HCR, the more independents they lose. This won't bother the GOP in red districts, but will hurt them in the purple districts that are the key to any major GOP gains this fall.

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