Independents Crushed In Post-Recession Obama Economy

For those who need reason for why Independents are leaning toward Republican candidates in this year’s election, look no further than the latest NBC-WSJ survey conducted July 30 – August 3, 2014 by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates.

The latest NBC-WSJ survey findings powerfully quantify just how crushing the Obama economy has been for Independents with a simple series of questions asking which economic events apply to respondents personally.

When compared to all respondents and even to self-described Republicans and self-described Democrats, significantly higher percentages of Independent voters report having lost a job, taken a second job, taken a job for less pay, providing for a child over 21, and providing for other relatives than their kids or parents.

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These distressing economic events have a strong and lasting impact on people’s lives and perceptions. Among Independents, 79{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say they were personally affected by the recession and 71{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say they are STILL being affected by the recession today.Independents are as pessimistic about the economy improving as Republicans, and much more likely to say we are facing long-standing problems with the economy. More than two out of three Independents believe the country is still in a recession.

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Independents closely resemble Republicans on a number of key economic measures including the overall economy, the state of the political system, the state of America, and the opportunities we will leave our children’s generation.

With this context, it is easy to understand why Independents favor a Republican-Controlled Congress by 11 points (39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} GOP-Control – 28{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Democrat-Control).

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But, Republican candidates should be careful not to misread this data. Economic anxiety and pessimism does not mean that Independents have completely shifted out of the economic frame that has persisted throughout the Obama presidency that a widening income gap is putting the American Dream out of reach for most Americans.

In fact, in the August survey Independents closely resemble Democrats when the traditional idea of the American Dream – that anyone can work hard and succeed – is set against the idea that the widening income gap is undermining that opportunity.

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Bottom Line

The abysmal economic recovery the Obama Administration has presided over has had real implications for all Americans. This survey suggests Independents have endured a substantial burden; lost jobs, less pay, and providing for their grown children as well as other relatives.

While this economic pessimism among Independents is contributing to the advantage Republicans have on Congressional preference among these voters, Independents continue to have low opinions of both parties and their strong agreement with the economic frame that a widening income gap is undermining opportunity makes them a difficult group for Republicans to pin down and consolidate.

The poll was conducted July 30-August 3, 2014 by Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Fred Yang. This analysis is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of NBC, WSJ, or of Hart Research Associates.

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