New data from Gallup shows that independent voters now favor a generic Republican candidate for Congress over a generic Democratic candidate by 12 points, a trend that appears to be tied to their feelings about President Obama.
In more than 6,000 interviews conducted in June, 46 percent of independents said they would support a Republican candidate while 34 percent said they would vote for a Democrat. In April and May, Gallup polls showed Republicans with a 10-point edge among independents on the generic ballot while in March it was an eight-point margin.
The same gap does not appear in Gallup's generic ballot number among all registered voters, where 46 percent opt for a Democratic candidate and 45 percent choose a Republican.
The Gallup numbers suggest that Obama himself is the prime motivator for independent movement toward Republicans on the generic ballot. More than half (51 percent) of independent registered voters -- a more useful demographic slice when analyzing election outcomes -- disapprove of the job the president is doing. Of that group, more than seven in 10 said they preferred a generic Republican candidate to a generic Democratic one.
"Dissatisfaction with Obama appears to be a reason independents favor the Republican Party this year," writes Gallup's Jeffrey Jones.
The Obama fade among independents that is apparent in the Gallup data is all the more striking given the success he had in winning over that crucial voting bloc in 2008. Obama carried independents, who comprised three in every ten voters, by eight points over Sen. John McCain -- a turnaround from four years earlier, when Sen. John Kerry (D) took 49 percent of independents to 48 percent for incumbent George W. Bush.
Jan van Lohuizen, a Republican pollster, said that focus groups of independents he conducted in several states recently suggested that "independents are now thinking about the same issues as Republicans are"-- the economy, federal spending and the ongoing oil leak in the Gulf.
But, van Lohuizen did note that all is not lost for Obama and his party among independents. In the Gallup data, one in five independents are undecided on whether to support a generic Democrat or generic Republican in the fall.
"Independents are really in doubt about Obama but haven't given up on him yet," van Lohuizen said. (Source WaPo)