WASHINGTON — Republican voters are more energized than Democrats about November's congressional elections, a trend that could mean gains for the GOP, according to a new Pew Research Center national survey.
"Republicans are much more engaged in the coming election and more inclined to say they are certain to vote than Democrats," the survey said.
Pew said the trend could result in a "sizeable turnout advantage for the GOP in November that could transform an even race among registered voters into a solid (House of Representatives) victory for the Republicans."
In addition, said poll director Andrew Kohut, "the trend could extend to other races, too."
Democrats control 255 of the House's 435 seats and 58 of the Senate's 100 seats. All House seats and 36 Senate seats — 18 in each party — are in play this year.
The poll of 1,802 adults, including 1,496 registered voters, was conducted June 16-20, and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The results suggest echoes of recent game-changing elections.
The Republican Party now has roughly the same advantage in enthusiasm among its voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and that the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign, Pew found.
As a result, it said, "In many ways, the 2010 campaign is shaping up as a mirror image of the midterm election four years ago."
In 1994, Republicans won control of the House for the first time in 40 years, with a net gain of 52 seats, and also wrested control of the Senate by gaining eight seats. Twelve years later, Democrats took back the majority in each chamber, with net gains of 30 House seats and six Senate seats.
Democrats, who in 2008 gained 24 more House seats and eight more in the Senate, are burdened this year by the still-sluggish economy. In addition, their voters are unlikely to turn out for congressional races as heavily as they did that year when Barack Obama topped their ticket.
Part of the Republican eagerness to vote this year involves Obama: 52 percent of GOP voters consider their vote a vote against him.
Young voters, one of Obama's biggest constituencies, favor the Democratic candidate in their House districts, 57 percent to 32 percent. However, Pew said, "only half of young voters say they are absolutely certain to vote."
Republican House candidates, on the other hand, do well among people over 50 — the GOP has a 52 percent to 41 percent edge among them — and about eight in 10 of them said they were "absolutely certain to vote."
The GOP also is doing well with another crucial bloc: Independents prefer Republican House candidates by 44 percent to 36 percent. Pew found that independents backing the Republican candidate "are much more engaged than those who favor the Democrat in their district."
ON THE WEB:
MORE FROM MCCLATCHY:
For more McClatchy politics coverage visit Planet Washington