Sunday, October 17, 2010

One-fourth of '08 Obama voters have turned against The One

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's winning coalition from 2008 has crumbled and his core backers are dispirited. It's now Republicans who stand to benefit from an electorate that's again craving change.

Nearly two years after putting Obama in the White House, one-quarter of those who voted for the Democrat are defecting to the GOP or considering voting against the party in power this fall. Just half of them say they definitely will show up Nov. 2, according to an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released two weeks before Obama's first midterm elections.

Yet in a reflection of broad dissatisfaction with politics, just as many people who backed Republican presidential nominee John McCain are either supporting Democrats now or still considering how to vote.

Still, McCain voters — to borrow Obama's campaign rallying cry — are far more "fired up, ready to go." Two-thirds say they are certain to vote next month.

It's a wide enthusiasm gap that's buoying Republicans, who are poised for big electoral gains, and worrying Democrats, who are seeking to hang onto majorities in Congress as well among governors. Obama's party hopes its superior get-out-the-vote operation, updated from his groundbreaking campaign, can overcome Republicans' energized supporters to mitigate expected losses across the board.

While no president can be expected to fully rally his supporters when he's not on the ballot, the survey illustrates the wide scope of Obama voters' disappointment with the president and his policies almost halfway through his first term — and two years before he's likely to seek their backing again.

"He's not listening to the majority of the people who elected him. It's like he's ignoring his base," said SaraSue Crawford of Jacksonville, Fla., who points to Obama's health care overhaul law. She's deciding whether to support Republicans in the hopes of "shaking up the status quo" and restoring a balance of power in Washington. She says she may back Obama in 2012 — if he changes course by listening more.

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