In most elections it is the independent voter deciding the outcome. And now “independents” are the largest political party. Just read this transcript from the above video:
Now let’s the put the Democratic line up there: You see the Democrats started at 39. It slowed down all the way to 33. They’re actually losing more than the Republicans are, but they’re on the same path to hell.
Now, let me show you the independents. Here’s the independent line — remember I told you they were about to cross? Look at this. They crossed and now are up to 39 percent. This is the first time — it hasn’t been like this in 70 years since we have been taking this poll.
As people are moving from the “traditional party” ranks, the independent voter is becoming even more important. And that independent voter is racing away from the president as fast as they can:
Independents’ Warning for Obama
By GERALD F. SEIB
Independent voters are the canaries in the coal mine of American politics, telling a leader whether the air is safe or starting to fill up with some toxic gases.
Bearing that in mind, President Barack Obama and his team ought to start worrying about the health of those canaries.
While the president remains broadly popular, his standing has eroded noticeably among political independents in recent weeks. That slide, among a set of citizens central to Mr. Obama’s sizable victory in last year’s election, means he has reached a politically hazardous juncture at the midpoint of his first, exceptionally hectic year.
The shifting attitude among independent voters, in fact, is the most significant change to emerge from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, completed just last week. In that survey, Mr. Obama’s job-approval rating among Americans overall slipped a notch, to 56% from 61% in April. That’s not much of a drop, and is in keeping with the pattern for a new president at this point in his term.
But the slide was much more pronounced among self-identified purely independent voters — that is, Americans who express no loyalty to either party.
Among these people, who tend to reside in the middle of the ideological spectrum, the president’s job-approval rating fell to 45% from 60% in April.
The drop is the result of a “much more critical evaluation by these voters of President Obama” than in the administration’s earlier months, Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff, directors of the Journal/NBC News poll, write in their analysis of the findings.
In particular, the survey suggests, independents are developing gnawing fears about government spending. They are markedly more worried about the federal budget deficit as an economic issue than are Americans in general, and they are more likely to be skeptical of Mr. Obama’s plan for a health-care overhaul.
Above all, though, independents are starting to simply view the president as more liberal than they expected. The share of independents who say Mr. Obama is a liberal has risen to a substantial 64% from 46% two months ago. A large portion of them actually classify him as “very liberal.” That’s a particular problem because independents tend to view themselves as center-right — 78% call themselves moderate or conservative — so they see a president moving to the left of where they are.
“This is a clear and important danger for him,” says Mr. Hart, the Democratic pollster. Independents, he adds, don’t seem to worry so much that Mr. Obama is trying to tackle too many issues, but rather that “this administration is leaning much more left than they expected” as he handles those issues.
Of course, there also are more positive elements for the president in this picture. He remains personally popular among many independents; almost seven in 10 say they like him personally. “He is doing just fine with independents on a personal basis,” Mr. Hart says.
In addition, any doubts among independents about the Obama agenda aren’t translating into much love for Republicans and their ideas. Only 18% of independents say they have positive feelings about the Republican Party. Moreover, some of the wavering among independents is to be expected from a group of Americans who are, by definition, not rooted in loyalty to any party or leader, and hence very fickle.
Still, independents are a crucial slice of the public. They make up about a fifth of the American electorate, and they tend to mirror America’s broader demographics.
They also tend to decide most elections, and they went for Mr. Obama last year by a 52% to 44% margin. Their attitudes are of great long-term importance to Democrats’ hopes that the 2008 vote was a transforming election that will usher in a durable Democratic majority.
Indeed, the broad contours of the 2008 vote were shaped by waves of previously independent voters who switched to calling themselves Democrats. They acted and voted that way last fall, which was a principal reason Mr. Obama became the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote in a presidential election in 32 years.
But Democrats were renting those voters last year; they don’t own them, at least not yet. As a purely political matter, they remain up for grabs in many ways. Independents who moved toward Mr. Obama last year, and away from him now, could easily swing back toward him down the line.
Mr. Hart says independents want to see that the president is providing “a vigilant government, not a controlling government.” And as with so much in the early stages of the Obama presidency, the economy’s recovery likely is the key to Mr. Obama’s long-term standing with independents. A durable economic recovery will make concerns about the deficit recede, and make an overhaul of the health system seem more affordable. Without that kind of economic recovery — well, everything will be hard, with independents as well as others.
To see results of the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll,Click Here