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Voter enthusiasm tilting Rossi's way?
Posted by Jim Brunner
Washington Democrats have fought back on the notion that they're suffering from the same "enthusiasm gap" plaguing the party nationally.
But early voting numbers -- and a new poll from a Democratic-leaning group -- suggest Dems here are not immune the national trend, which would be good news for Republican Senate challenger Dino Rossi.
Pat Shortridge, Rossi's campaign manager, wrote up a memo Sunday looking at the early turnout numbers.
Comparing those numbers to the 2004 governor's race (where Rossi wound up basically tied with Democrat Chris Gregoire), Shortridge sees a heartening trend for Rossi: turnout in Democratic areas so far looks comparatively depressed.
"As you'll note, in 2004, turnout in the heavily Democrat 7th CD was about 1.4 percentage points ahead of the state average. This year, the 7th CD is 3.3 percentage points behind the statewide average. Likewise, the 1st CD was 4 percentage points ahead of the statewide average in 2004. This year, it is 2.7 percentage points behind."
"Further, in 2004, the more Republican 4th CD was 3.8 percentage points behind the state average, while the 5th CD was just under 2.5 percentage points behind. This year, the 4th CD is almost 5 percentage points ahead, as is the 5th CD."
All that is happening despite the recent visits by President Obama and other Democratic stars trying to rally the base for three-term incumbent Sen. Patty Murray.
"Any notion that Democrat voters are just as motivated as Republicans, or even closing the up, is just not credible, and bears no relationship to the facts," Shortridge concludes.
Democrats have been talking up their get out the vote efforts, saying their superior organizing here will still push Murray and others over the top.
But a new poll, from Democratic-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling, also carries bad news for Murray. The poll finds Rossi ahead of Murray 50-48.
The numbers are even worse for Murray among those who say they already voted. PPP notes:
"The most worrisome number for Murray within the poll, beyond her small overall disadvantage, is that among voters who say they've already returned their ballots Rossi's advantage is wider at 52-47. Murray's ability to keep the race close is predicated on the 24% of respondents who have not yet done so returning their ballots. That group supports her by a 51-45 margin."
"Washington has one of the more severe enthusiasm gaps in the country. Barack Obama won the state by 17 points in 2008 but those planning to vote this year supported him by only a 7 point margin. If Democrats in the state vote at a higher rate than response to our poll suggested over the weekend that would likely be enough to put Murray over the top."
If these numbers are accurate, Murray's chances for a fourth term rest squarely on the ability of Democrats to bug their procrastination-prone supporters until they mail those ballots in.
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