NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben on Enthusiasm, Gender Politics and Midterms

Oct 4, 2018

NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben was in Iowa the morning after the release of an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats for the upcoming midterm elections had closed.

NPR reports that in July, there was a 10-point gap between the number of Democrats and Republicans saying the November elections were "very important." Now, in October, that is down to 2 points, a statistical tie.

But, Kurtzleben isn't ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater. "You don't want to throw out everything you've been thinking, change everything you've been thinking based on one poll," says Kurtzleben. But, it's her organization's poll, and Kurtzleben says, "We're good at it."

The question, Kurtzleben says, if the enthusiasm gap has closed this much, is why? She says the NPR politics team has been talking about whether the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford over sexual assault allegations and President Trump's reaction to that testimony has driven up enthusiasm among Republicans.

"So, to the degree that he is whipping up anger surrounding this, it is possible that that is driving up enthusiasm. Then again, once again, it's really hard to know the why behind poll numbers. All we know is the what."

In this edition of River to River, Kurtzleben talks with host Ben Kieffer about gender politics and how they're likely to play out in the upcoming midterm elections, as well as her childhood growing up in Titonka, Iowa.