WARNING: The GOP has a 2018 passion problem

Washington (CNN)Buried in a new national poll from Quinnipiac University is this question: "Compared to past elections for the US House of Representatives, how motivated would you say you are to vote in this year's election; are you more motivated to vote than usual, less motivated, or are you just as motivated as usual?"

The responses are, at first glance, nothing terribly interesting: 49% say they are more motivated while 46% say they are as motivated as usual. Just 6% of people say they are less motivated to vote in this election as compared to past contests.
But one look at the breakdowns by party reveals something very interesting -- and important:
58% of Democrats say are more motivated than usual to vote in this election while 38% say they are as motivated as usual.
    41% of Republicans say they are more motivated than usual while 58% say they are about as motivated as always.
    That 17 percentage point delta is critical to understanding the fate of both parties -- at least right now -- heading into the 2018 election. Democrats are fired up beyond belief to vote, motivated almost exclusively by their white-hot hatred of President Donald Trump and his White House. Republicans, who currently control the House, Senate and White House, are generally happy with the current state of affairs.
    That passion gap is nothing new -- although it is more pronounced with Trump than with most past presidents. It's why, with three exceptions -- 1934, 1998 and 2002 -- the president's party has lost House seats in the first midterm election.
    Even Trump has acknowledged the gap -- and its potential pitfalls for Republicans. "What happens is you fight so hard to win the presidency, and you fight, fight, fight," Trump said in February. "By the time you start campaigning, it's a year. And now you got to go and fight again. But you just won. So nobody has that same drive that they had." 
    That's right. And despite his warning, that appears to be exactly what's happening in 2018.
      The Point: Trump has broken historical norms repeatedly during his time in office. But the history of presidents losing House seats during their first midterm election may be a trend not even Trump can buck.
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