Skip to comments.Fickle independents returning to Barack Obama
Posted on 01/24/2011 8:51:36 AM PST by SeekAndFind
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats learned at least one big lesson in the November elections: What the independent voter gives, the independent voter can also take away.
But now, the same temperamental bloc that threw House Democrats out of power appear to be in a giving mood again - at least as far as Obama is concerned.
That unpredictable, cranky group of voters who helped carry the president into office two years ago before turning against him in dramatic fashion, may be turning back in Obamas direction even more quickly.
A series of national polls released over the last week shows Obamas approval rating on the upswing among voters who dont affiliate with either political party.
In two polls, Obamas standing with independents jumped by double digits. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed him clocking 46 percent approval among independents - an 11-point increase since December.
A CNN/Opinion Research survey was even more sanguine, showing a 15-point leap for Obama, to 56 percent approval.
A third poll, conducted for CBS and the New York Times, gave the president a more conservative, 43 percent approval number among independents. But even that poll showed him in net positive territory. Just 39 percent of independents said they disapproved of Obamas performance, marking a startling reversal since October, when his disapproval rating was 15 points higher with independents than his approval rating.
Analysts point to a number of explanations for Obamas rise, including his reassuring response to the Tucson shooting, his willingness to cut deals with the congressional GOP and the presence of a new political foil for Obama, in the form of emboldened conservative Republicans.
The bigger picture is that Obama seems to be getting at least something of a second chance with a hugely influential slice of the electorate that abandoned Democrats in droves during the 2009 and 2010 elections.
Republican pollster David Winston acknowledged that Obama has had a good run with the political middle lately.
There are two events that have occurred that are significant and I think people are trying to think through: He agreed to work with the Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts and, two, he delivered a good speech in Tucson, Winston said.
But Winston emphasized that while independent voters may be in the political center, they arent in the ideological center, meaning that even under the best of circumstances theyll be a difficult group for Obama to hang onto.
Independents are a center-right group, he said. Thats why Republicans have been able to put together majorities and thats the challenge to the president.
Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein had a similar assessment of why Obamas numbers have improved, arguing that Obama is again projecting the even-handed image that led independent voters to like him in the first place - and that he began to lose over the course of his first two years in office.
Without apportioning blame for the lack of bipartisanship, the takeaway for a lot of voters was basically, the house is on fire and were bickering about which tchotchkes to save, Gerstein said, citing the protracted debate over health care that unfolded amid economic stagnation.
I dont think theyre necessarily looking at Democrats again. Theyre looking for leadership, he continued. Why has Obama rebounded? First and foremost, he heard the message about working together and that there has to be more compromise.
The fact that independent voters are even relatively upbeat about the president is striking, given what a clear, negative judgment they issued on his party last November.
After backing Obama by 8 percentage points in 2008, independents supported Republicans by a 19-point margin in the 2010 congressional elections.
On a state-by-state level, some of the swings were even more stunning. In Wisconsin, independents voted for Obama by 19 points in 2008. In the states 2010 Senate race, they broke by 13 points for now-GOP Sen. Ron Johnson a 32-point shift in just two years.
In Pennsylvania, independents went from supporting Obama by 19 points to backing Republican Senate candidate (and now Sen.) Pat Toomey by 10 percent.
Other presidential battlegrounds, including Ohio and Florida, showed similar movement among independents in 2010. And a year earlier, Virginia independents went from supporting Obama by 1 percentage point to backing Republican Bob McDonnell for governor by a 33-point margin.
That Obamas numbers are even slightly bouncing back among these voters is a testament to their volatility.
Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm thats one of the few to show Obamas approval with independents still underwater, said its hard for any politician to cement in place their standing with independent voters.
Independents are anti-politician in general, Jensen said. We find very few elected officials who are particularly popular with them and thats partly because choosing not to identify with either major political party is a general sign of skepticism toward our political system and the politicians who fuel it.
Thats especially hard for Democrats, Jensen argued, because independents are a right leaning group to begin with and that means the deck is stacked against Obama being popular with them from the start.
PPP continues to show Obama with just a 37 percent approval rating among independents, compared with a 57 percent disapproval rating. Thats the most pessimistic recent polling result for the president with this group of voters.
But a survey from ABC News and the Washington Post also placed Obamas approval rating in net negative territory with unaffiliated voters, showing 46 percent approving of his performance and 51 percent disapproving.
And while Gallup gives Obama a solid, 46 percent approval rating with independents the pollster recorded only a modest, single digit increase since mid-December, when Obama was at 41 percent.
Still, coming a few months after devastating midterm elections, when Democrats lost 63 House seats, six Senate seats and a half-dozen governorships, even somewhat more stable numbers are an improvement for the presidents party - and a sign that independents are once again up for grabs.
Independent voters are the ultimate jump ball in politics. Theyre up on the rim, rolling around, sometimes they fall in the hoop, sometimes they dont, said Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. I see no evidence that they have locked in on anybody or anything, including Republicans, Barack Obama or Democrats.
Summing up Obamas recent gains, Fleischer added: He tipped the independent ball into the hoop for a week.
Obama may also be benefiting from the fact that the same Republican antagonists who spent two years hammering him on health care, spending and the economy now have a responsibility to govern.
In the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the Republican Partys net favorability rating sank by 11 points from 28 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable in December, to 23 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable this month.
Democrats, meanwhile, returned to near-parity in the poll, going from 13 percent favorable, 43 percent unfavorable last month to 29 percent favorable, 33 percent unfavorable now.
Those arent blockbuster ratings for either party, but with a group of voters that often considers all its options unpalatable, its at least a sign that Democrats can again compete to be the least-bad option for independents.
Just because I dont think Obama will ever be very popular with independents doesnt mean I dont think hell win them in the 2012 election. Independents end up making a lot of lesser of two evils calculations when it comes to voting, Jensen said. I think Obamas slightly unpopular with independents at mid-40s approval but that he can still win a majority of their votes next year if the GOP doesnt come up with a better candidate.
Winston emphasized that even in some of the polls that show Obama doing better with independents, many of those voters still disapprove of his handling of the economy - the issue most strategists believe will decide the 2012 election.
He has not put back together his majority coalition, by any stretch, Winston said, adding that Obamas address to Congress on Tuesday might be a good indicator of whether he can sustain his gains.
I think the State of the Union is a very big speech for President Obama, because basically what were going to see in that speech I where he thinks he can go with his policies, given that last election.
In before the pictures of Bagdad Bob.
Independents no longer trust him. He abused their vote last time around and they know he will use them again.
His Rasmussen approval rating had been in double digits for almost 2 years;today its -4.People are,indeed,gullible.
I saw a poll from Foxnews that showed even though Obama’s approval number had gone up, 52% said they would NOT VOTE TO RE-ELECT him.
Expect the media to go into overdrive trying to convince the nation that everyone loves Obama.
Independent voter is just a fancy name for a wind sock.
Somehow, I don’t think so. Looks like the MSM whistling past the graveyard.
I’m unsure about this.
I have my doubts.
There is still no job creation to speak of.
The deficit is still way too high and our national debt is getting worse by the second and this administration is doing nothing to stop the hemorrhaging.
The democrats have not denounced raising taxes.
The democrats have not denounced big government and their nanny state agenda.
The democrats have not taken any steps to eliminate costly and burdensome regulations governing business.
In short, I seriously doubt independents will drift toward democrats in large numbers given these facts.
Obama’s numbers are up because Republicans cut that stupid deal with him over Christmas-—no tax hikes and no amnesty in exchange for the DADT repeal, the FDA law, and the START treaty, giving him some semblance of a victory when they could have finished him once and for all if they had just waited until January.
Fools. The person in our presidency has been embracing Marxism most of his adult life, sat in a church for over 20 years that preached hatred of America and surrounded himself with fellow Marxists and independents is going to change the way he governs because he cares for the country? Idiots is all I can say. Temporarily he is tacking toward center because his polls were in the toilet and he wants to be the big man on campus again in 2012. That’s it! Anyone can be swayed by his recent comments and actions is smok’in something and doesn’t deserve to vote.
Independent is just another name for a wishy-washy moron who considers himself a deep thinker.
18 months is a lifetime in politics. We’ll see what happens in November.
Oh, for corn sakes.....He hasn’t been on the tube 5 times a day like he was before. THAT’s what is working in his favor.
And that campaign rally in Tucson made the whole even about him. He didn’t do any of his usual shuckin’ and jivin’ in that speech, ‘cause they wanted him to look and sound “fatherly”.
Before Tucson, there were some fractures beginning in the media coverage of the Kenyan. The shooting gave the media the opening they wanted and needed to resurrect his popularity.
I guess they all found jobs in the last month.
If they didn’t, I wouldn’t expect the bounce to last very long.
“Expect the media to go into overdrive trying to convince the nation that everyone loves Obama.”
I expect that. But there’s a darker side to this. Here in the blue part of Ohio, people don’t love Obama, but they see him as the only viable choice. And they like the man. Both of those things make my head hurt, but it’s what I see.
Fickle people should NEVER be allowed anywhere near a voting machine.
With apologies to those who consider themselves “independents” because they hate both parties...
When I hear the term “independent” used by the talking heads on TV (”centrists”, “moderates), I think of those who don’t understand the issues, and have no intent to research them because, well, politics are boring and “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” (with a nod to LA’s best known criminal for the quote). They usually vote based on how they “feel’. They gave us BO because he was “stirring” and they “hoped” he would be a good leader and were horrified at what he actually DID. But now? They are so SURE he has learned “something”, and are so willing to give him another chance.
Please God, save us from the oh-so-”reasonable” “moderates” before they sell us and our kids down the river.
I don’t believe a word of this.
You got that right. bttt
Deny reality all you want, but he is indeed getting a boost right now for various reasons. Getting a lot of his way in December, AZ shooting, and so on..
Plus presidents almost always get a state of the union bump. So I can easily believe he’s up in the polls now.
Unfortunately for him there are no elections for a long time, so it’s completely meaningless.
If this is true, maybe they are just too stupid to understand what is going on.
The people tend to get the government they deserve.
I believe every word of it. The list of why it sucks is too long to type.
Coupled with his media spun home run of a speech in Tucson, he at least temporarily is the comeback kid . The Ascended One is underestimated at our own peril.
I consider ANYBODY that votes for him, and this includes my lawyer sister-in-law, mentally retarded.
Why would he be considered the only “viable” choice? I don’t get it.
this is one independent who will never trust this America hating, muslim hiding,commie socialist, closet homosexual,illegal immigrant.
Then again in reading the whole article, most polls show even with an upswing most independents are negative on Obama.
If the GOP goes suicidal and runs Palin the entire middle will go for hussein again. She is such damaged goods outside of echo chambers like here that there’s just no way she’d not get beaten by at least 10%, maybe far worse.
Indies are susceptable to propaganda.
They remind me of the people that only go to church on Christmas and Easter.
I’ll make another prediction. Palin’s chances of beating Obama are more than Romney’s. Once the media hangs Romneycare around his neck, he won’t even have his base. They’ll wait until he get the GOP nomination, of course.
I’m not entirely sure about that. I think Romney would do a bit better, but still lose.
I’m not entirely sure about that. I think Romney would do a bit better, but still lose.
I’m registered Independent, been so all my adult life.
Nobody asked me if I support Obama.
I’m not registered with either party either. In this case I think independents means moderates.
Perhaps a few reminders of that 9.4% unemployment figure would be in order.
WTH is the matter with these people? If Bush had these unemployment numbers, agitprop media would’ve been screaming for his head in more shrill terms than they already were.
The economy will be what sinks him or not in next years elections. What he is doing now is simple, he decided to copy what Clinton did and just take a popular sentiment position on everything but his core policy issues to keep from losing his base.
He isn’t going to be a leader now that he lost the house and doesn’t have Nanci to carry his water there for him, he is going to be a candidate for the next two years and bend in the wind for the swing voters.
“If the GOP goes suicidal and runs Palin the entire middle will go for hussein again.”
As much as I like Palin, I agree.
I see this as Politico of the Leftist bent joining in on the current kickoff of the Obama disinformation campaign for reelection in 2012.
If we look about almost all directions we can see a massive startup of the machine that is going to inundate us with OBS for almost two years. This article is part of that startup IMO.
Probably worse, more like 20%. It will be ‘64 all over again. Palin is right on the issues but the media and the ‘Rats will do to Palin what they did to Goldwater, only on steroids. Obama won’t be running against Palin, he’ll be running against a ‘Rat and media-created caricature of Palin. And the sheeple will buy into it.
“Why would he be considered the only viable choice? I dont get it.”
You have a point... there is one “Republican” I’ve heard independents mention... Romney. Independents are spoon fed by the media. As such, the ones I know consider almost any Republican as too radical, too extreme.
De-nile is not just a river in Egypt. I think you (as many here on FR do) see the world through the filter of your own lens. This country is made up of millions of voters who want all sorts of free stuff and will vote for the person who is promising them the MOST free stuff.
Only about 35-40% can be counted on to vote for their country over their pocket book and closet of give-aways.
Politico got that direct from sacred mouth of the Holy Creator of Crop Circles.
Obama is up to 52% approval in Rasmussen, and even higher in some other polls.
Many people here mistakenly believed there was some nationwide “revolution” taking place against the left and big government. The truth is, there is no “revolution”. Conservative grassroots are asserting themselves via the Tea Party and pushing the GOP to the right, but the country as a whole has in no way rejected the social welfare state.
The minute the new Republican House tries to cut much of anything, the usual howls of protest will come from the media and the majority of the public will direct their ire at Republicans for trying to “starve kids”, “steal old people’s social security”, etc. We’ve seen this before in 94’95’ and were about to see it again.
Things will have to get much, much worse before the sheeple in this country realize the nanny state is unaffordable and always fails. It could still be a very long time before the masses even begin to accept this.
Absolutely, Reagan was re-elected by 49 of 50 states and couldn’t whittle a dime out of government spending.
“Independent is just another name for a wishy-washy moron who considers himself a deep thinker.”
I think you’re on to something here. I have been so disgruntled with my RINO Senator as well as all the others that I began to think of myself as an Independent voter. However, there is no way in hades I would vote for a democrat so I reckon I’m still just a disgruntled Republican.
I find it is hard to get conservatives to give up on their favorite big-government positions.
Emotionalism wins over pretty much everything for most humans. Engendering cognitive dissonance in someone just makes them mad at you.