It’s rather simple really. And the Washington Post provides the answer today:
In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.
That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
And if Romney’s large margin among independents holds, it will be a break not just from 2008 but also from 2000 and 2004. In 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won independents by 47 percent to 45 percent over Vice President Al Gore. Four years later, Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts essentially split unaffiliated voters, according to exit polls — 48 percent for Bush to 49 percent for Kerry. (Independents made up 27 percent of the vote in 2000 and 26 percent in 2004.)
It is more than a “striking reversal”, it is an indicator of what other major demographics are demonstrating as well. A big shift away from Obama. So one of two things has to be true – the polls showing these big demographic shifts away from Obama are wrong, or the polls showing this to be a tight race with Obama slightly ahead or behind have to be wrong. They can’t both be right.
When you add in the “atmospherics”, it is hard to believe this is a tight race. The enthusiasm for Obama isn’t there (and certainly not at all like it was in 2008), apparently the major demographics aren’t there and finally, even in the polls that do show a close race, the trend continues to be up for Romney.
It still isn’t clear what demographic model the polls are using, but as I said in the podcast last night, if it is skewed with D+ anything, it is likely wrong. If I had to guess I’d say a poll that isn’t skewing at least R+1 isn’t even in the same galaxy as this election. The atmospherics, demographics and momentum, whether the left or MSM wants to admit it or not, are on the side of the GOP. My guess is this doesn’t end up being a close election and that Democrats are not going to be happy with the outcome.
If you’ve noted a general tendency to ignore the run for the presidency and all the nonsense that includes here at QandO, you’re an astute observer. It’s just silly right now, especially on the Republican side. Cain is up, Cain is down. Romney is the front runner, Romney is an also ran. Paul is a side show, Paul surges. Gingrich is out of it, Gingrich is the man.
When all the dust settles I’ll renew my interest. However, all of what has been happening has had an effect. Gallup reports:
Republicans’ enthusiasm about voting in the election for president next year has decreased, with 49% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican now saying they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, down from 58% in September. This narrows the gap between them and Democrats, 44% of whom are more enthusiastic than usual, essentially the same as in September.
Of course the mitigating circumstances are outlined in my lede. Without a single nominee and with the daily barrage of negativity, voters are turning off. That doesn’t mean they won’t turn back on when that nominee is named (regardless of which of the bunch he is) as Gallup further notes:
The decrease in Republicans’ enthusiasm could reflect the intensive and bruising battle for the GOP nomination going on within the party, and the rapid rise and fall of various candidates in the esteem of rank-and-file Republicans nationwide. 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.
But this is a key component of predicting who will eventually win the White House so stay tuned to this particular poll on enthusiasm throughout the campaign.
Meanwhile, before Democrats start celebrating the narrowing of the gap (even temporarily), they may want to consider this next poll:
President Obama’s uphill battle to re-election is getting steeper.
A report released today by the centrist think-tank Third Way showed that more than 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states have fled the Democratic Party since Obama won election in 2008.
“The numbers show that Democrats’ path to victory just got harder,” said Lanae Erickson, the report’s co-author. “We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008.”
Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.
Of course the flight of independents from Democrats has been noted for quite some time. Fewer and fewer are identifying with or leaning toward the Democratic side.
“People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties,” said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist. “The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters.”
So Jarding has a grasp of the obvious. Good. He then says:
“On paper, it looks like, ‘Well, it’s just going to be bad for Obama,’ but a part of me says, ‘Bad in what sense?’ He’s proven that he can get independent voters,” Jarding said.
He’s proven he can get independent votes with no resume and nothing but an emotionally appealing campaign based on absurd promises and bashing an unpopular president.
Now he’s the guy with the negative approval rating and a record he has to defend. Whole different ballgame. Whole different stadium. It is more than a problem “on paper”.
“People are very, very disillusioned and the danger for Obama is when people are disillusioned and when they are hurting they tend to throw the guy in power out,” Jarding said. “If Obama can’t turn out the vote that he did in 2008, he’s in trouble.”
He’s in trouble, which, for the most part, is a good thing.
As we near the mid-term elections and people start paying attention (and early voting begins), we’re naturally seeing some tightening of the races. However, one thing that hasn’t been tightening, per many polls, is independents going for the Democrats.
Anyone who has watched elections over the years knows full well that indies are the swing vote that, for the most part, determine the outcome of most elections. Some refer to them as the mushy middle. Others see them as voters truly independent of the 2 party system and not satisfied with either. And during each election, they pick the side which best represents the direction they’d prefer to see the country go on the often mistaken assumption that the winner will head that way.
All that being said, keep in mind as you hear stories about tightening races that one thing that hasn’t been tightening is the Democratic hold on independent voters – at least not in this election cycle. Why?
Remember, this is a Congressional election and as much as the GOP might like it to be a referendum on Obama (and to some degree it will be) it’s mostly about the Congress we have. Indies aren’t very enamored with it or its leadership (Nancy Pelosi is at 29% and Harry Reid is lower). A new poll makes the point:
The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll found that 61 percent of likely independent voters in 10 battleground House districts — a critical swing demographic — think the leadership under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is more liberal than they are.
“That’s a very significant finding that tells you where independents are likely to go,” said Mark Penn, president of Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the poll. “In terms of independents, Reid and Pelosi are viewed as out of step.”
And that feeling is likely to effect the independent vote, because it is strictly a numbers game that keeps the leadership in place. Change the numbers, i.e. vote for the other party’s candidate, and if the change is large enough, you change the leadership. Pelosi’s the most likely to lose her leadership job (and, rumor has it that even if Dems somehow hold on to the House, she may not be Speaker), but if Reid manages a win in Nevada, his power in the Senate may be neutralized by GOP gains in that chamber.
I got a bit of a chuckle with this quote:
“The inability to define Boehner and McConnell as out of touch with mainstream values was a strategic failure of the Democrats in the election,” said Simon Rosenberg, a veteran of the 1992 Clinton war room and president of NDN, a center-left think tank and advocacy group.
“The Democrats have done a bad job this election cycle defining the Republican Party as out of touch with American values,” he said.
It is hard to define the other side as “out of touch with American values” when the Democrats were proving every day and in every way how out of touch they were. The GOP does indeed have it’s ‘out of touch’ problems, but they’re insignificant in comparison (at least at the moment) to the Democrats.
Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, said many Democrats have played into the Republican strategy by attacking business.
“A lot of the Democrats are resorting to economic populism, and the polling shows that voters aren’t buying it,” he said. “ ‘Corporate America’ is a Washington term. Outside Washington, that’s business and the people who employ you.”
The anti-business, government union party – is that really how the Democrats want to be identified? Is it any wonder independents are deserting them in droves?
In this podcast, Bruce, Bryan and Dale discuss the state of the economy and the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
In another poll that Democrats will do their best to ignore, the majority in favor of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for terrorist detainees has melted away.
The significance of the poll isn’t that the majority now favors leaving the facility open – although that certainly has some significance. Instead, it is found in who has changed their mind about GITMO. Hint: It isn’t Republicans or Democrats:
Attitudes about the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have changed dramatically since President Barack Obama took office, according to a new national poll.
Support for closing the facility has dropped 12 points over the past 14 months, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates.
Shortly before Obama’s inauguration, 51 percent of Americans said they thought the facility in Cuba should be closed. Now that number is down to 39 percent, and six in ten believe the United States should continue to operate Guantanamo.
The poll, released Sunday, suggests independent voters are contributing to the 12 point overall drop.
The big change? Among independents. 75% of independents now want the facility kept open. Previously it was about a 50-50 split. That’s a dramatic shift.
CNN, who commissioned the poll, doesn’t advance a reason for the change, but I’d venture to say that many independents have reconsidered their stance when they realized that the claim that GITMO was a recruiting tool for al Qaeda was so much over-blown campaign rhetoric. That regardless of where the prison is, the fact that we were detaining terrorists is the recruiting tool, not the prison facility itself. And, with the talk of moving these dangerous inmates to facilities inside the US – bringing a possible threat of terrorism to US communities – they realized the security benefit of keeping the facility off shore.
Not that any of those excellent reasons for leaving Guantanamo open will penetrate the close-minded thinking of those in the administration or anything. But it is another example of an issue in which independents are deserting the Democrats.
At least in the domestic realm. Those are the latest poll results tracking the president’s job performance approval by CNN/Opinion Research Corp.
Obama retains majority support on foreign affairs at this point (although I don’t expect that to remain favorable for long), but a majority of independents, the key to his electoral victory last year, are not at all impressed with this performance domestically:
Fifty-three percent of independents questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they disapprove of how Obama’s handling his duties in the White House, with 43 percent in approval. That result marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of independents give the president’s performance a thumbs-down.
Here’s the key line in the article:
“Obama won a majority of the vote among independents last year, and that helped put him in the White House,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Losing their support makes it more difficult for Obama to govern from the center.”
So that leads the question, “how does Obama recapture this key electoral demographic”? The obvious answer is by moving toward the center. But if he does that he’ll have to scrap the more controversial parts of his health
care insurance reform bill and there’ll be hell to pay with his base.
But it is even more complicated than that.
Is the fight over health care responsible for the downturn in Obama’s numbers?
“Yes, in part, but his standing on some other issues has taken an even bigger tumble,” adds Holland. “Among all Americans, his rating on health care has dropped 13 points since March. Compare that to his 16 point drop on the deficit and 17 point dip on taxes and it looks like there is growing discontent with Obama’s overall domestic agenda — not just his health care policy.”
Again, emphasis on the point the left seems incapable of grasping – independents disapprove of the whole domestic agenda – health
care insurance reform is only the flash point.
So coming up with a new bill aimed at the health care issue, even if more acceptable than what is presently being proposed isn’t going to necessarily change the approval rating or bring independents back into the Obama (and Democratic) fold.
As an aside, this is interesting as well:
The survey also indicates that 37 percent of Americans think the media has treated Obama fairly, down 18 points from February. One in four say the media has been too critical of the president, up seven points from February and 36 percent say the media has not been critical enough, up 10 points.
If you add the 37% who think the media has treated Obama fairly, with the 18% who’ve dropped out of that category you just about have the percentage of the vote which elected Obama. My guess is that 37% that think he been treated fairly are mostly the independents he and the Democrats have been losing over the past few months.
Back to the topic – it is fish or cut bait time for Obama and the health care debate is where he’ll finally have to show his true colors. Is he going to try to woo the independents back by proposing moderate reforms and attempting to move back toward the center? Or will he double down, push the controversial portions of the legislation his base demands and all but declare his liberal colors? He’s not going to be able to please both his base and independents. So he’s going to have to make a decision and make it soon – look for his “major speech” on health care to be that decision point.
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, Bryan, and Dale engage in the usual libertarian carping about government, and whether or not we “owe” the GOP something. We don’t, by the way.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.