POLITICO - July 9, '09 - In a potentially alarming trend for the White House, independent voters are deserting President Barack Obama nationally and especially in key swing states, recent polls suggest.
Obama’s job approval rating hit a — still healthy — low of 56 percent in the Gallup Poll on Wednesday. And pollsters are debating whether Obama’s expansive and expensive policy proposals or the ground-level realities of a still-faltering economy are driving the falling numbers.
But a source of the shift appears to be independent voters, who seem to be responding to Republican complaints of excessive spending and government control.
“This is a huge sea change that is playing itself out in American politics,” said Democratic pollster Doug Schoen. “Independents who had become effectively operational Democrats in 2006 and 2008 are now up for grabs and are trending Republican.
“They’re saying, ‘Costing too much, no results, see the downside, not sure of the upside,’” he said.
The White House denies there’s been any real shift.
“The independent numbers I have seen, public and private, have been relatively steady,” Obama’s senior political adviser, David Axelrod, said in an e-mail.
Another political adviser dismissed small state polls as statistically questionable and pointed out that Obama’s own numbers remain strong, by historical standards — with an average 59 percent approval rating among independents in June, according to Gallup.
Pollsters from both parties debate the numbers’ meaning, but averages of public polls have shown a gentle downward trend. Read more