Are Pollsters Sufficiently Factoring the Enthusiasm Gap for 2010 Mid-Terms?

The most challenging aspect of political polling is determining how likely a respondent is to actually cast their vote. Mid-term elections are particularly problematic as motivation is generally much lower than presidential election years. But as we know, the 2010 mid-terms are like no other and the rapid growth of the TEA Party has completely altered these dynamics.

Credible pollsters have employed various methods of weighting particular respondents’ opinions with regard to their stated interest in particular races. Rasmussen has explained their strategies in figuring out precisely who is sufficiently motivated to take the time from their busy lives to actually cast their vote. This is why these superior polling companies consistently yield remarkable results.

However, one consideration that pollsters may be neglecting is the impact of extraordinarily motivated voters. While each citizen can only cast a single vote, there is so much more an individual can do to affect the outcomes of elections. I, for example, am volunteering to make phone calls for Christine O’Donnell’s campaign. I have never set foot in the state of Delaware, but have been compelled to action in this race. I would have never fathomed doing anything like that several months ago, but as uncomfortable as I may feel making phone calls to strangers, my compulsion to do something more for the causes in this election override my anxieties. I know a number of people that are volunteering for political causes for the first time in their lives. They are all supporting conservative candidates.

Democrats have traditionally established stronger ground games to physically get voters to the polls on election day. This has clearly changed and in a mid-term election, where turnout is usually lower, the ground advantage for conservative candidates should significantly impact the final results. It is reasonable to consider that the volunteer efforts of extraordinarily motivated voters could easily tip close elections, particularly those where candidates hold starkly oppositional positions. If this comes to fruition, the Republicans will achieve a truly historic victory, sweeping all the toss-up Senatorial elections and sending Angle, Buck, Miller, Rossi, Paul and maybe even O’Donnell to Washington.

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