Independents abandoning sinking Democratic ship

Independent voters who put Barack Obama into office in 2008 may cost him the Presidency in 2012 and take other Democrats down with him.

Recent polls show independents are jumping off the Good Ship Democrat. Gallup says only 14 percent of independent approve of the job the Democratic-controlled Congress is doing, a new low for the year.

Other polls show Democratic incumbents trailing Republicans among independents. Some of the margins are double digit.

For Obama, the numbers are equally bad. CBS polling shows the President’s approval rating among independents falling to 45 percent — a 10-point drop since April.

“We withdrew from the accounts of voters and now we need to pay them back,” Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, tells Politico. “We are having these conversations right now about what independents need to see and hear.”

Writes Alex Isenstadt on Politico:

Mounting evidence that independent voters have soured on the Democrats is prompting a debate among party officials about what rhetorical and substantive changes are needed to halt the damage.

Following serious setbacks with independents in off-year elections earlier this month, White House officials attributed the defeats to local factors and said President Barack Obama sees no need to reposition his own image or the Democratic message.

Since then, however, a flurry of new polls makes clear that Democrats are facing deeper problems with independents—the swing voters who swung dramatically toward the party in 2006 and 2008 but who now are registering deep unease with the amount of spending and debt called for under Obama’s agenda in an era of one-party rule in Washington.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen and Doug Shoen report similar problems:

The off-year elections in New Jersey and Virginia were indeed a warning sign to Mr. Obama. While the presidents ratings aren’t likely to dip much further by year’s end—given the size and support of his base—by focusing exclusively on his base he could create lasting political problems that plague the remainder of his term.

Unless Mr. Obama changes his approach and starts governing in a more fiscally conservative, bipartisan manner, the independents that provided his margin of victory in 2008 and gave the Democrats control of Congress will likely swing back to the Republicans, putting Democratic control of Congress in real jeopardy.

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