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GOP Winning Midterm Intensity War, New Poll Shows

Even the most casual sports watcher knows that winning sometimes comes down to which team wants it more. And by that measure, six weeks away from the elections in November, Republicans are dominating the midterm game.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll shows that 54 percent of Republicans say they’re highly interested in the upcoming elections, compared to 44 percent of Democrats who say the same.

Another way to look at the GOP intensity advantage: Democrats hold a four-point lead on the generic ballot, 46 percent to 42 percent. But among high-interest voters, Republicans have the edge, 51 percent to 43 percent.

“Off-year elections are about intensity, which becomes a question of which set of voters cares most,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart. “In the opening lap of the general election, the GOP is winning.”

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Republicans are not only more interested in the election – they also believe the stakes are higher.

Asked how this election compares to other cycles, three in four Republicans said that this one is much more important (42 percent) or somewhat more important (33 percent) than others.

Just 57 percent of Democrats give it the same level of importance

Key Democratic constituencies also don’t seem that enthralled with the upcoming races.

Among registered voters, just 42 percent of women, 31 percent of African-Americans, 23 percent of Hispanics and 20 percent of voters aged 18-34 said they’re highly interested in the election.

Compare that to these traditionally GOP-leaning groups: 62 percent of seniors, 63 percent of Tea Party supporters and 50 percent of white men said the same.

With less than 45 days to go until Election Day, those are numbers to make Democrats worry.

The poll of 815 registered voters was conducted September 14 to September 18. The margin of error is +/- 4.31.