Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney listen as… (Laura Segall / Reuters )
With fewer than four weeks until the first votes are cast in the presidential race, a surprising finding: Republicans' enthusiasm about voting is on the wane.
At the same time, Democrats are increasingly enthusiastic about the 2012 vote, cutting into what had been a distinct advantage on the part of Republicans.
A new Gallup survey shows that 49% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are more enthusiastic about voting in the White House race compared with past elections, while 44% are less enthusiastic. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 44% are more enthusiastic and 47% are less enthusiastic.
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What had been a 27-point enthusiasm gap for Republicans is now down to just eight points, Gallup said, which may be a result of the volatile contest to date.
"Once the Republican nominee is determined next year, Republicans' voting enthusiasm may steady, but whether this is at a high, medium, or low level remains to be seen," Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport wrote Thursday.
Typically, and unsurprisingly, Gallup has found that voter enthusiasm tends to be a reliable indicator of the eventual outcome.
Gallup this week also unveiled a daily tracking poll on the GOP horserace. Currently, Newt Gingrich leads the field with 34%, ahead of Mitt Romney at 25% and Ron Paul at 10%.