Enthusiasm gap larger than '94

A new Gallup poll out Monday shows a wide gap in enthusiasm between Republican and Democratic voters for this year's midterm elections.

A full 59 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they are "more enthusiastic than usual" about voting this year. That's compared to just 44 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Gallup notes that the 59 percent number is the highest the poll has found in a midterm election since it started asking the question in 1994. In that year, when the GOP gained 52 seats in the House and regained control of Congress, Gallup found 42 percent of Republicans "more enthusiastic."

"The prior high for a party group was 50% more enthusiastic for Democrats in 2006, which is only one of the last five midterm election years in which Democrats have had an enthusiasm advantage," wrote Gallup's Jeffrey Jones. "In that election, Democrats won back control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 1994."

For Democratic strategists, the turnout dynamic in 2010 is one of the party's biggest concerns. Throughout the primary season, Democratic turnout has been relatively low, while Republican interest has surged. With the conservative base energized by the Tea Party movement and opposition to the Obama administration, whether or not Democrats can drum up turnout in marginal districts could make the difference, particularly in tight House races.

Last week, the Democratic National Committee expanded its 2010 turnout effort with the rollout of "Raise Your Vote," a program aimed at registering and turning out additional new voters in November. The DNC has already pledged $50 million for 2010 turnout efforts.