Sixty-four percent of Americans say they have given quite a lot of thought to the 2012 presidential election, a slightly lower percentage than Gallup measured in July of 2004 and 2008. But Americans are much more engaged in the current election than in the 2000 election.
"Thought given to the election" is one of Gallup's "likely voter" questions, and is a predictor of voter turnout. The current data, from a July 19-22 USA Today/Gallup poll, would suggest that voter turnout among the voting-age population will be lower in 2012 than it was in 2004 (55%) and 2008 (57%), but higher than in the 2000 election (51%).
The percentage of Americans thinking about the election typically increases over the course of the campaign; thus, more Americans should be paying attention to the election during the party conventions, debates, and final push to Election Day.
Currently, Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to say they are thinking a lot about the election.
In most prior election campaigns, Republicans have typically paid a higher level of attention to the election than Democrats. However, the current 13-point Republican advantage is larger than Gallup has measured in recent presidential election years.Resurgent Republic reports:
Republican-leaning voting blocs are more enthusiastic to vote this November, which could be the deciding factor in a turnout election. As we head into the final campaign stretch, President Obama faces the unwelcoming reality that he must close the voter enthusiasm gap and improve his performance among key voting subgroups if he is to be successful in his bid for reelection.
When looking at those voters who say they are extremely enthusiastic to vote in the presidential election, Republicans hold a double-digit advantage over Democrats, 62 to 49 percent, and the subgroups most likely to support Governor Romney register higher enthusiasm than those backing President Obama, according to our most recent survey July 9-12.
Reliable Republican demographics, such as Protestants, Evangelicals, and white men, score above the median rate of those who are extremely enthusiastic to turnout and far out pace several traditional Democratic voting groups, including Hispanic voters, unmarried, and young voters (18-to-29-year-olds). African-American voters are the exception among Obama supporters and register enthusiasm on par with Republicans.
The higher enthusiasm among Republicans overall will help shrink the traditional Democratic identification advantage on Election Day, which stood at seven points during the 2008 wave election. As a result, national polling with a Democratic voter edge greater than the 2008 margin should be viewed with skepticism.