Monday, September 20, 2010

Independents fleeing Democrat Party they supported in 2008

A new comprehensive national survey shows that independent voters—who voted for Barack Obama by a 52%-to-44% margin in the 2008 presidential election—are now moving strongly in the direction of the Republican Party. The survey, conducted by Douglas E. Schoen LLC on behalf of Independent Women's Voice in late August, raises the possibility of a fundamental realignment of independent voters and the dominance of a more conservative electorate.

Today, independents say they lean more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, 50% to 25%, and that the Republican Party is closer to their views by 52% to 30%. This movement comes in spite of independents' generally negative views of the GOP—a majority of independents (54%) view the Republicans unfavorably, compared to 39% who have a favorable impression. (The poll also revealed that 48% of independents were either "sympathetic to or supporters of the tea party.")

Yet Republicans still have a 14-point lead overall among independents who say they intend to vote in the upcoming congressional elections (37% to 23%). Forty percent remain undecided.

Independents who say they are certain to vote in the upcoming election break better than two-to-one for the Republicans, 42% to 20%. (The poll consisted of 1,000 respondents who said they were absolutely certain or very likely to vote.). These figures suggest that if the Republican message is compelling enough, the 14-point margin can grow based on turnout. But to achieve that, Republicans need a positive message.

Follow-up interviews of 400 independents from our original poll after Christine O'Donnell's victory last week in the Delaware GOP Senate primary show further deterioration of the Democratic position. The Republican lead in the upcoming congressional election has reached 22 points, 40% to 18%, with all likely-to-vote independents. It is 23 points among those who say they are certain to vote (45% to 22%). Independents also strongly support continuation of the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, as well as oppose any additional infrastructure spending.

More generally, independents made clear in the survey what they want candidates to do: Decrease the size and scope of government, cut spending and taxes, balance the budget, reduce the federal debt, reduce the power of special interests and unions, repeal and replace the health-care legislation, and decrease partisanship. The survey also showed that independents believe they aren't getting any of this from the current representatives in Washington.

Only 7% say the federal government does what they would like to see it do most of the time; one-third say it does so some of the time, and 59% say that the government rarely or never does what they want. Similarly, 81% say the federal government and the political leadership in Washington are out of touch with Americans like themselves. Our country may have a representative government, but independents feel that they don't have any representation at all, which may be why 68% say they want a major third party in our country.

Independents see both parties as big spenders and taxers—only they view the Democrats as worse.

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