Most polls, Rasmussen excepted, continue to show that neither presidential candidate is pulling away from the other and that close Senate races have shifting leads. Primary elections, however, are showing a very different situation -- and it is voters who turn out in elections, not random Americans called by pollsters, who determine the winners and losers in politics. If the latest news can be believed -- and we have every reason to believe it -- there is a conservative voting trend building, and its momentum is going to make it truly terrifying for liberals come November.
Let's start at the beginning. In the first place, Rasmussen, which polls likely voters, has shown for years now that a huge chunk of Americans "strongly disapprove" of the job Obama is doing. On May 10, for example, more than twice as many Americans strongly disapproved of Obama's job performance as "strongly approve" of the job he is doing.
Gallup in March showed an enthusiasm-gap edge that Republicans had over Democrats of 53% to 45%. This is particularly important because Rasmussen, on a month-by-month poll, shows consistently that more Americans call themselves Republican than Democrat. More troubling for Obama is that Gallup recently published a poll which showed that his strongest age group of support -- voters 18 to 29 -- strongly favors Obama over Romney, but only 56% say that they will definitely vote. Meanwhile, the older voters -- especially voters 65 and older -- strongly tilt towards Romney, and 86% of these voters say that they will vote.
Then there's the proof in the primary pudding. Two months ago in Oklahoma, Obama lost 15 counties to a protest candidate with no chance of winning. How many of these unhappy Democrats will stay home in November? Oklahoma (and West Virginia, but more on that later) is a conservative state which has historically been run by Democrats, but unenthused Democrat voters are appearing in other states as well.
The April 24 Pennsylvania primary took place 17 days after Fox News declared that the Republican presidential race was over. Yet the Republican candidates for the presidential election received about 800,000 votes to 700,000 for Obama. Democrats had the only close race in that primary, for state attorney general, yet out of the six different statewide races, more votes were cast for Republicans than Democrats in every race except that race.
Two weeks later, in the Wisconsin recall primary, Democrats alone had competitive primaries. These races included not just the primary to decide who would face Governor Walker in the June recall election, but also several state senate primaries in which Democrats were running against other Democrats. Yet Governor Walker received almost as many votes as all the Democrats running in the gubernatorial primary put together -- the highest number of votes that any Wisconsin governor has received in any primary in the last sixty years. The only reason Republicans had for voting in this primary at all was to cast a symbolic vote for Walker, while some Wisconsin Democrats had a couple of races -- gubernatorial nominee and state senate nominee -- to cast ballots which meant something. Yet Democrats, not Republicans, seemed to stay home.
North Carolina primary results noted that the gay marriage issue got walloped, but that issue ought to have turned out voters on both sides in roughly equal numbers. Both parties had large turnouts for other races, but Obama received only 750,000 votes in the presidential primary, with 200,000 Democrats voting no preference despite the fact that there was no Democrat -- not even a convicted felon in another state -- to vote for in the primary. The Republican nomination was already sewn up as well, but the four Republican candidates received 915,000 votes, with only 50,000 voting no preference.
Finally, there's the singular and eye-opening example of West Virginia. When a sitting president whose re-nomination is presumed a foregone conclusion struggles in primaries, that is a profoundly bad sign for his party. In 1912 and in 1976, when Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan sought to grab the Republican nomination from incumbent Republican presidents, the challengers were very popular men who were fabulous campaigners.
Keith Judd, a convicted felon imprisoned in Texas, however, had no money or positive name recognition, and he did not campaign at all against Obama. So how did Federal Inmate 11539-051 get 41% of the vote running against Obama in a state in which both senators, both state legislative chambers, and the governor are all Democrats?
Senator Manchin and Governor Tomblin, both of whom must face voters in six months, declined to support protest candidates against Obama. Why should West Virginia Democrats turn out to support either man in his re-election bid this November? If these voters stay home, Democrats could lose a senate seat, a governorship, and even control of a state legislative chamber.
One datum alone cannot predict a general election, but primary news that is starkly bad for Obama and Democrats -- like the West Virginia primary results or Governor Walker's stunning numbers in an otherwise meaningless Republican primary, along with the polls which show Democrats less happy about voting than Republicans and show Republicans consistently outnumbering Democrats -- may add up to a quietly growing, almost invisible electoral tsunami. We may see not just Obama swept out of office -- Democrats in congressional and state races have much to fear as well.
America desperately needs a conservative revolution. Few of us believe that electing a moderate conservative like Romney will, by itself, produce what we're looking for. An electoral tidal wave as described above, however, can create the revolution that we need. Those eager to vote in 2012, and those who have already shown up in big numbers to vote in primaries, strongly suggest that a political day of reckoning for Democrats is nigh.