With this week's DailyKos/SEIU/PPP poll conducted mainly on the Thursday and Friday after the debate last week, we might have expected excitement levels of Obama voters to plunge while the excitement levels of Romney voters surged, at least if the numbers followed the Conventional Wisdom narrative. Let's see what happened:
Is the lack of change for Obama voters just because unexcited Obama voters changed into undecideds? No. From last week to this week, Obama's vote share changed from 49% to 47%. (I would note that by itself this is NOT a significant shift; only in the context of other polling showing a shift in the race on these same days is it meaningful.) If we assume that 2% change all went to undecided, and grab them back and call them Obama voters who are Not At All Excited (not a wise idea, but just for the sake of argument), then the Not At All Excited numbers rise about 4 points and Very Excited drops about 4 points. That still would not be a dramatic change in the context of the race. However, we may see continuing movement next week, as partisans respond to the polls released this week.
Moving away from recent events, it's interesting to see that excitement among Obama voters was lagging that of Romney voters pretty much all summer, and only began to grow in August. In September, Obama voters were more excited than Romney voters. Aside from the poor campaign narrative for Romney in September, the DailyKos poll also changed from a registered voter to a likely voter screen, which should have screened out some of the less enthusiastic voters. If that were the case, that could explain some of the increase in Obama supporter's enthusiasm, but then we can note that in contrast Romney supporters did not increase in enthusiasm as the likely voter screen was implemented.
What about some key components of the Obama coalition? We've sometimes seen the Conventional Wisdom that minorities won't be that excited to vote this year for Obama because history has already been made. Do the numbers bear this out? More below...
We have a problem when looking at minority numbers in the Daily Kos poll - a substantial number of respondents in minority categories are white respondents pressing the wrong number. But, we can get around this by 1) only looking at minority Obama voters, which reduces the proportion of 'bad' data and 2) looking at trends only.
Here's the trend for Hispanic Obama voters' excitement levels:
Fortunately, we have the Latino Decisions poll to give us some absolute values we can trust, although the question is slightly different, and is reported for all voters, not just Obama voters as shown above. They have seen an increase in excitement since the winter. The numbers have declined slightly since the Democratic convention, but currently stand at 53% Very Enthusiastic, 34% Somewhat Enthusiastic, 7% Not Too Enthusiastic, and 3% Not At All Enthusiastic. Not only that, but enthusiasm is self-reported to be, on average, comparable to 2008, with 34% saying they are more enthusiastic than in 2008, 36% saying less, and 27% saying the same.
If we look at another crucial segment of Obama voters, African-Americans, again we see an increase in excitement levels, this time by about 10-15 points:
So, despite the debate, excitement among Obama voters remains high, and minority Obama voters in particular appear to be fired up. We'll see what the next month brings.