As you know, I’ve been closely monitoring public opinion among Independents for some time now. A few of my recent postings have highlighted this key sub-group, noting their shift away from President Obama and the various policies he is trying to pursue.

Until now, these shifts have been emerging trends, but yesterday, Fox News/Opinion Dynamics released their latest poll* and the headline from it could not have been clearer: It’s Independents, stupid!

By almost a four-to-one margin they disapprove of the job Congress is doing (20{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve, 77{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove), and on every measure of President Obama’s job approval Independents are upside down.

alex-blog-post-oct-16Things don’t get any better when you look at where Independents fall out on the currently all-consuming health care debate. Just 23{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Independents say they favor the health care reform legislation being considered while 62{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say they oppose it.  Moreover, a majority (53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) say they would prefer the current health care system compared to 28{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} who would prefer the health care plan proposed by the Democrats in Congress; and only 17{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Independents say they and their family would be better off under the health care reforms being considered, while more than twice as many (38{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) say they would be worse off.

As if that data isn’t bad enough news for the president, there are even more troubling numbers for him in this poll.  By a margin of 13 points, Independents say in 2010 they are more likely to vote for a Republican candidate (35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) to provide a check on Obama’s power over a Democrat (22{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) to help Obama pass his policies. And, if the 2012 election were held today 35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Independents say they would reelect President Obama while almost half (48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) say they would vote for someone else.

This poll provides a very clear picture of what’s going on in the electorate. Independents aren’t just starting to shift away from the president, they are beginning to flee.  This is one of the core groups that helped Obama get to the White House.  Losing them this quickly and to this degree only spells more trouble ahead for the president and provides an opportunity for Republicans to reach out to these important voters as the 2010 elections approach.

*National survey of 900 registered voters conducted October 13-14, 2009.




Public Opinion Strategies