Compared with four years ago, there is less excitement and optimism about the victorious party and its plans following the GOP's overwhelmingly successful Election Day. Also, while the public expresses more conservative views about the role of government than it did just two years ago, on major policy decisions that will arise in coming months, opinion is closely divided.
An older and much more conservative electorate than in 2006 and 2008 propelled the Republican Party to a broad victory in the 2010 midterm elections. But the vote was more repudiation than endorsement. Views of the Republican Party are no more positive than those of the Democratic Party.
There will almost certainly be far more nonvoters than voters this year. Nonvoters are younger, less educated and more financially stressed than likely voters. They are also significantly less Republican and more likely to approve of Obama's job performance.
As the 2010 midterm elections near, Republican engagement and enthusiasm continue at record levels, outpacing even improved Democratic showings on these indicators. The growing popularity of early voting -- about a quarter of voters nationally say they plan to vote before Election Day -- gives Democrats less time to make up ground and there is no indication that their voter mobilization efforts are outmatching Republican efforts.
Millennials continue to be among the strongest backers of Democratic candidates this fall, though their support for the Democratic Party has slipped since 2008. But young voters have given far less thought to the coming elections than have older voters, and this gap is larger than in previous midterms.
In a year when support for Democratic candidates has eroded, the party's standing among Latinos appears as strong as ever. However, Hispanic voters appear to be less motivated than others to go to the polls.
Voters younger than age 30 favor the Democratic candidate in their district by a wide margin (57% to 32%), yet only half of young voters say they are absolutely certain to vote. Voters ages 50 and older favor the Republican candidate in their district by double digits (11 points) and roughly eight-in-ten (79%) say they are absolutely certain to vote.