Also troubling for Democrats is that a significant portion of that drop has come since the general election race between President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney kicked-off this year. In February, Democrats only trailed Republicans in enthusiasm by a margin of 53 to 45.

Voter enthusiasm will be especially critical in 2012 as the parties battle for a small group of undecided voters. Both presidential candidates will be counting on their bases turning out in force, and a lack of enthusiasm that provokes some voters to stay home, especially in the 12 swing-states that are likely to decide the election, could swing the result.

Obama’s ceiling for the 2012 election is widely believed to be lower than that of his unique and history-making 2008 run, so the president can’t afford to take for granted those groups that turned out for him with such energy in the last election.

For instance, while Obama holds a massive lead of nearly 40 percent among Hispanic voters, according to an NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo poll released on Wednesday, that poll also found interest among Latinos in the upcoming election is only at 68 percent, which is 11 points below the national average.

The poll was conducted from July 19-22 and has a four percentage point margin of error.