A sharp drop in approval for President Barack Obama from Iowa's political independents has pushed the Democrat's approval further below 50 percent in the state and below the national average, according to the latest Iowa Poll.
Approval among Iowa independents has dropped 10 percentage points since November, to 38 percent. Independents in Iowa helped Obama win the leadoff nominating caucuses in 2008 and later carry the state in the general election.
Similar shifts in independent voters helped elect Republicans in governor races last year and a special U.S. Senate election last month. The Iowa findings confirm Democrats' worries that this key voting bloc could sit out this fall or vote for Republicans.
"That's been the big drop that's occurred," Democratic pollster Paul Maslin said of the shift of independents away from Democrats. "It fueled Scott Brown in Massachusetts. It clearly helped create the margin of victory in New Jersey and Virginia.
"It's obviously a very worrisome development for this November," said Maslin, who was Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign pollster. "If those kinds of trends continue, then obviously we are in danger of losing the U.S. House and potentially the U.S. Senate."
Forty-six percent of Iowans approve of Obama's handling of his job, according to the poll taken Jan. 31 to Feb. 3. That's down from 49 percent in November.
It is also 22 percentage points lower than Obama's Iowa approval of 68 percent around his inauguration last year. (continues here)