Yes, HRC’s supporters might actually be enthusiastic

HRC2No great surprise that a new Gallup poll shows Donald Trump’s Republican supporters significantly more enthusiastic than his Republican rivals’ supporters. What does surprise, perhaps even shock, is that the same poll shows Hillary Clinton with an “enthusiasm advantage” over Bernie Sanders among Democratic voters. To be clear, what this shows is that, according to Gallup, of those who support Hillary Clinton 54 per cent consider themselves extremely or very enthusiastic, while only 44 per cent of those who support Bernie Sanders consider themselves similarly excited about the Vermont senator.

As Lydia Saad at Gallup writes, there could be an easy explanation for Clinton’s “lead” over Sanders in this category.

In both parties, people’s enthusiasm for voting in the election could reflect a combination of factors — including excitement about their preferred candidate’s presence in the race as well as confidence that the candidate will succeed in winning either the nomination or the general election. The latter could be particularly relevant on the Democratic side, where Clinton is widely seen as the likely nominee and is poised to be the first female major-party nominee.

Amanda Marcotte at Salon offers a different view, stating that the numbers require no such qualification and in fact make perfect sense.

[Clinton] has spent two and a half decades in the spotlight, enduring huge amounts of sexism as every single man in the country who feels threatened by smart women or powerful women projects all his anxieties on her with the passion of a thousand burning suns. But she hasn’t stopped striving. She eats haters for breakfast and keeps smiling, all while more haters are telling her she doesn’t smile enough.


“Saying Clinton’s moxie inspires you invariably attracts derogatory sneers about how you’re a “vagina voter”. Supporting Clinton requires dialing down the enthusiasm, couching it in lots of reassurances that Sanders is a great guy (reassurances Sanders supporters feel no need to offer about Clinton), and striking an apologetic stance for wanting to see a female president.

Like it or not it, expressing sincere enthusiasm for Clinton’s candidacy does present a challenge, as if one is publicly admitting they don’t quite get it – whatever “it” is. And this is most pointed amongst those with microphones and computers. I might not express myself exactly the same way as Ms. Marcotte, but the sexism is certainly real.

What strikes me as odd is that Gallup feels the need to, at least partially, explain away their own data. There simply must be some other reason Clinton voters are enthusiastic about their candidate other than that they might actually really like and respect her.

As for myself, I am an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter because I recognize the degree of political talent necessary to implement even a marginally progressive agenda given the fractured state of politics in Washington. I believe she has that talent and Senator Sanders does not (great guy that he seems to be).

I suppose what I am saying is that if I had been surveyed by Gallup I would have indicated significant enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, and not simply because I thought she was likely to win the nomination. Right now in the history of the Republic I really, really want a smart, tough, and experienced candidate capable of beating back whatever it is the GOP is selling. And I don’t mind at all that we might be getting our first woman president, though that is not my primary concern.

Marcotte finishes her story by citing a Tweet from Dave Weigel that appeared recently. “Clinton has won around 9 m votes. Trump has won around 7.8 m. The stories: How Hillary’s blowing it, how Trump changed everything.”

And yet, given the coverage, how could anyone not try to explain away the supposed enthusiasm among Clinton supporters?

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