As part of our Target Voter Series, Resurgent Republic sponsored four focus groups among Independent voters in Denver, Colorado and Richmond, Virginia. These respondents all voted for President Obama in 2008, but are undecided on the generic presidential ballot today.
Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the focus groups were split by gender.
In 2008 President Obama won a majority of the national vote due to his strong performance among Independents (52 to 44 percent), and as a result, he began his presidency with a deep reservoir of goodwill among swing voters. Due to Obama’s fiscal policies, it didn’t take long for his support among this target demographic to fray, as shown in our inaugural April 2009 national survey. A rebellion of the center erupted in 2010 as Democrats lost control of the House and were defeated in several battleground gubernatorial races. Ever since that point, President Obama has sought to win back swing voters, a task that will undoubtedly continue to Election Day.
After three-and-a-half years of his presidency, these Obama Independents still like the President, even if they moderately disapprove of the job he is doing. Yet the President’s personal likeability does not prevent many of these Independents from concluding (1) Obama has not delivered according to their expectations and (2) things are not getting better when considering the overall trend line from 2009 to today. The battle for swing voters will evolve once a Republican nominee emerges, but President Obama remains in a precarious position with these voters when their attention is focused on his record.
Additional key findings include:Also see the infographic on Obama-as-car.
- It’s premature for politicians to take credit for any positive economic news since these voters believe the economy is improving too slowly or not at all.
- The Independents in all four groups disapprove of both parties in Congress in clear, unmistakable terms.
- There’s growing frustration due to the perceived abuse of government benefits, including unemployment compensation and welfare assistance.
Who will be this year’s decisive group? Swing Independents.
Third Way’s newest poll with Global Strategy Group looks at 1,000 Independents in battleground states and identifies a bloc of voters who are truly up-for-grabs in 2012: Swing Independents.
There’s good news for the President: Swing Independents have positive views of Obama, but they are not locked down. So far Swing Indys prefer President Obama by 6 points, but over one-third are undecided. The Congressional ballot is virtually tied, with nearly 6 in 10 undecided.
We find that Swing Independents are “opportunity” voters—preferring an optimistic, opportunity framework on the economy over one based on fairness. Why? Opportunity addresses their anxieties about the future, concerns that America is slipping, doubts about how the next generation will succeed, and questions over how we will strengthen our economy.