Gallup also reports on a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Sept. 15-18:Americans see the Republican Party as better able than the Democratic Party to protect the country from terrorism and military threats, and to keep the country prosperous over the next few years.
These views come as record numbers of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed and express highly negative opinions about a number of other dimensions of the federal government. Next year's elections provide Americans with an opportunity to vent their frustrations in the presidential and the congressional elections. At this point, Republicans, who currently control the House but not the presidency or the Senate, appear to be at least slightly better positioned going into the elections, given Americans' preference for the GOP to handle the nation's domestic and international woes.
Democrats held the advantage over the Republican Party on the "prosperous" dimension from 2003 through 2009, a period that included the majority of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's. The advantage switched to the GOP last year and remains so this year, by 48% to 39%
In thinking about the 2012 presidential election, 45% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44%, are less enthusiastic. This is in sharp contrast to 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2004, when the great majority of Democrats expressed heightened enthusiasm about voting.
Democrats' muted response to voting in 2012 also contrasts with Republicans' eagerness. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans, 58%, describe themselves as more enthusiastic about voting. That is nearly identical to Republicans' average level of enthusiasm in 2004 (59%) and higher than it was at most points in 2008.
Democrats' net enthusiasm (+1) now trails Republicans' net enthusiasm (+28) by 27 percentage points. By contrast, Democrats held the advantage on net enthusiasm throughout 2008 -- on several occasions, by better than 40-point margins. Democrats occasionally trailed Republicans in net enthusiasm in 2004, but never by as much as is seen today. The current balance of enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats is similar to what Gallup found in the first few months of 2000.