You've probably heard that one thing that is bound to doom Democrats this November is the "enthusiasm gap," the fact that polls show Republicans far more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats. As Nate Silver tells us, this is really a turnout gap, and it's more about Republicans than Democrats. The Democratic base isn't actually particularly "dispirited," as we've heard -- they seem ready to turn out at something like historically consistent levels. What is likely to make the difference is that Republicans are really, really ready to turn out.
Here's how representative democracy works: We send a representative from our district or state to Washington, where they become one of either 435 House members or 100 senators. They can introduce legislation, serve on committees, and make speeches. But for one of them to do something really far-reaching is rare. That's especially true when you're new to the institution, partially because you need the cooperation of a majority of your colleagues to pass something, and partially because of the nature of seniority. When you're a freshman, you don't get to waltz in and write the next big tax bill. You don't get to chair the Appropriations Committee.
In case you haven't seen it, there's a new poll out from the National Journal which finds that only 20 percent of Americans -- and only 33 percent of Democrats, for gosh sakes -- think that this Congress has accomplished more than previous Congresses. Steve Benen gives the appropriate response: