Republicans have closed the enthusiasm gap in the wake of the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but how does that translate into voter reliability? According to Gallup’s latest survey, Republican voters are equally as certain to vote as Democrat voters are this fall. Seventy percent of Republicans say they are certain to vote in the upcoming elections, compared to 72% of Democrats who say the same. Only 43% of Independent voters are certain they will vote in November.
Looking back at past elections, these numbers closely resemble the situation at this point in 2014, 2006, and 2002. In 2014, when Republicans kept control of the House and won control of the Senate, 68% of Republicans said they were certain to vote, while 66% of Democrats said the same. In 2006, when Republicans suffered losses in both chambers, Democrats and Republicans were tied, with 73% of each certain they would vote in that Midterm Election. In 2002, when Republicans bucked the Midterm Election trend of the president’s party losing seats, 66% of Republicans said they were certain to vote, while 67% of Democrats said the same. In 1994 and 2010, when Republicans made major gains, they had a significant advantage in voter certainty. In 1994, 70% said they were certain to vote in the Midterm Elections, compared to 66% of Democrats (+4). In 2010, 76% of Republicans said they were certain they would vote in those elections, compared to 71% of Democrats (+5). In 1998, Republicans had a nine-point advantage in voter certainty (68%-59%), but they went on to lose seats that fall.
Today’s numbers are a good sign for Republicans, but they must capitalize on the revived enthusiasm and the close attention their voters are paying to their races. If Republican campaigns do this and outwork their Democratic opponents on getting their voters to the polls, 2018 could be a better year than many had anticipated for the party in power.