Gallup Poll: 2010 Midterms Shape Up As Independents Fleeing From Democrats
If there is an emerging political storyabout the 2010 mid terms — a political trend likely to give the best indicator yet about how these elections are shaping up, one that goes beyond ideology-based political analysis — it is this: Independent voters are fleeing the Democrats big time and he (or she) who loses the independents in big numbers usually loses the elections. A Gallup Poll paints the picture:
Republicans maintain a substantial advantage over Democrats among likely voters in Gallup’s generic ballot for Congress — in both lower- and higher-turnout scenarios — fueled in part by the GOP’s strong showing among independents.
And the campaign so far: has it shown evidence of moving many voters? The answer: no.
Gallup’s latest election update shows that if all registered voters were to turn out, 44% of voters would favor the Democratic candidate in their district and 47% would favor the Republican candidate. The race has been close since the beginning of September, suggesting there has been little structural change in Americans’ broad voting intentions in recent weeks.
So much for the influence of ads, big money and political “stars” changing minds on the stump. Here’s Gallup’s comment on the implications:
Republicans continue to benefit in the race for control of Congress not only from their higher representation among likely voters, but also from significantly higher identification with the GOP among independent voters.
Translation: if the Democrats had independents flocking to them the numbers — and the likely impact — would be different.
Democrats have two general ways to close the gap with the GOP in the remaining weeks before the Nov. 2 election. First, Democrats could seek to shift the voting intentions of the electorate — and more specifically, independents — in a more Democratic direction. Second, they could work to increase enthusiasm and turnout among Democratic voters. President Barack Obama is out on the campaign trail — and apparently will continue to be there between now and Election Day — exhorting Democratically inclined voters to ratchet up their interest in voting on Nov. 2. The success or failure of these efforts will be a key determinant of the ultimate election outcome.
It sounds as the Democratic Party and Barack Obama’s charge that foreign money is stealing American democracy by being funneled in the Chamber of Commerce to use against Democrats was partially for this purpose. If so, it is in serious danger of backfiring and hurting Obama and the Democrats. An emerging consensus of many analyists — including FactCheck.org and Time’s Mark Halperin — is that there is “no there there” on this charge. It’s inaccurate, overblown or downright false. Not a good way to win over independent voters.
Meanwhile, a new Bloomberg Poll finds that nearly half of Obama’s supporters are disappointed — and that more voters now feel Obama has hurt the economy.
Hope has turned to doubt and disenchantment for almost half of President Barack Obama’s supporters.
More than 4 of 10 likely voters who say they once considered themselves Obama backers now are either less supportive or say they no longer support him at all, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 7-10.
Three weeks before the Nov. 2 congressional elections that Republicans are trying to make a referendum on Obama, fewer than half of likely voters approve of the president’s job performance. Likely voters are more apt to say Obama’s policies have harmed rather than helped the economy. Among those who say they are most enthusiastic about voting this year, 6 of 10 say the Democrat has damaged the economy.
“He’s made compromises that have hurt the middle class,” says poll respondent Alan Graham, 55, a surgeon in London, Kentucky, who supported Obama in 2008 and now is on the fence about the president. “I think the lobbyists for the big businesses are having their way with him.”
And again the erosion among independents:
The erosion of backing for Obama among onetime supporters has been most notable among two groups of voters who were central to his election: women and independents. More than 6 of 10 of the former Obama backers who have turned away from him are women; 53 percent of the onetime supporters are independents
In terms of 2012, the poll indicates Obama is still well-liked personally and would easily defeat a slew of Republican candidates — but that could change if big GOP gains means decreased Obama clout during his last two years in office.
Will we hear the same question about Obama after the mid-term 2010 votes are counted that we did after Democrats got clobbered in the mid-terms following Bill Clinton’s first two years: “Is the President still relevant?”