Democrats' enthusiasm problems worsen ahead of midterms: The Note

They need to generate all the momentum they can muster.

April 11, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The COVID outbreak coursing through official Washington isn't keeping President Joe Biden off the case or off the road, with the president set to outline new gun regulations Monday and visit Iowa and North Carolina later in the week.

Democrats need to generate all the momentum they can muster. The latest ABC News/Ipsos poll shows a yawning enthusiasm gap for the party ahead of the midterms, with numbers that look even worse upon closer inspection.

Looking at those most and least eager to vote this year tells an important aspect of the story. Among Republicans, 55% say they are very enthusiastic about voting in the midterms, compared to just 35% of Democrats -- a number nearly identical to strong enthusiasm among independents (34%).

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi answers questions during her weekly press conference in Washington, March 31, 2022.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi answers questions during her weekly press conference in Washington, March 31, 2022.
Win Mcnamee/Getty Images, FILE

Meanwhile, 13% of Democrats say they are not at all enthusiastic about voting -- a segment of voters, of course, that will be hardest to draw off the sidelines. Only 5% of Republicans say the same, an encouraging sign for GOP strategists worried whether their voters will show up without former President Donald Trump on the ballot.

Breaking things down by age offers some insight into what's behind this: Only 23% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 28% of 30- to 49-year-olds say they are very enthusiastic about voting, compared to 47% of 50- to 64-year-olds and 60% of those who are 65 and older. Voters in their 20s and 30s powered Biden's victory in 2020 and are traditionally less likely to vote than those who are older.

ABC/Ipsos polling over the last few months shows almost no movement in Biden's approval across a range of issues including the economy, Ukraine, crime, immigration and inflation. That will have to change in relatively short order for Democrats to hope that the voting environment will be anything but dismal this year.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Without a clear end to the pandemic in sight, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that decisions about whether to venture out to big gatherings will have to be based on personal risk assessment.

Fauci told "This Week" Co-Anchor Jonathan Karl that people should consider things like their age, vaccination status and potential to infect vulnerable family members.

"This is not going to be eradicated and it's not going to be eliminated," Fauci said. "And what's going to happen is that we're going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take in going to indoor dinners and in going to functions."

PHOTO: Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to questions at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 11, 2022.
Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to questions at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 11, 2022.
Pool/Getty Images, FILE

His advice comes amid an uptick in cases following a rollback in measures aimed to slow the spread earlier in the pandemic. Members of Biden's Cabinet, White House aides and members of Congress including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have all recently tested positive.

Fauci said there is concern about the rise in cases, but that it is "not unexpected" given the change in CDC guidance that relaxes mitigation methods.

Despite the lingering uncertainty, views on Biden's response to the COVID-19 pandemic have improved, with 58% of Americans approving compared to 50% in late January, according to the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The landscape of Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary shifted on Saturday when celebrity television doctor Mehmet Oz received former President Donald Trump's endorsement. The backing came four months after Trump's original pick in the contest dropped out over abuse allegations that surfaced amid a child custody battle.

Support from one of the party's top leaders could quell concerns from some Republican critics that Oz is not conservative enough while highlighting a direct similarity to Trump given that Oz frequently touts himself as a political outsider. The race's other top contender, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, had also been lobbying for Trump's endorsement after Sen. Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got behind him.

PHOTO: Dr. Mehmet Oz attends The 2022 Champions Of Jewish Values Gala in New York, on Jan. 20, 2022.
Dr. Mehmet Oz attends The 2022 Champions Of Jewish Values Gala in New York, on Jan. 20, 2022.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images, FILE

In a statement addressing Trump's endorsement, Oz echoed the high stakes of the primary by singling out McCormick.

"President Trump carefully reviewed all of the candidates for U.S. Senate. Everyone, especially David McCormick – a pro-China, Wall Street insider, wanted this endorsement. But President Trump wisely endorsed me because I'm a Conservative who will stand up to Joe Biden and the woke Left," Oz said.

Trump's decision to support Oz, however, comes at a pivotal time for the former president as he aims to solidify his influence within the party through successful endorsements. The May 17 primary now will be as much of a political test for Trump as it is for the candidate he's endorsing.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

17. That's the number of points counties classified as "urban-suburban" have moved toward Democrats since 2000, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of county-level election data. And as FiveThirtyEight's Alex Samuel writes in the latest installment of her "Political Outliers" series, this leftward shift in many of America's suburbs has meant Republicans living in these areas often feel like political outliers. Read more from Alex about what it's like to be a Republican voter in some of America's bluest cities.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Monday morning with ABC's Terry Moran on the change in Russian tactics as troops amass in eastern Ukraine. Then, ABC's MaryAlice Parks explains an expected ghost gun rule from the White House. And, ABC's Britt Clennett details the State Department's warnings against traveling to China. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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