Thursday, September 23, 2010

Independents Poised to Bounce Party in Power

And this year that'd be the Democrats.

Pew Research:
For the third national election in a row, independent voters may be poised to vote out the party in power. The Republican Party holds a significant edge in preferences for the upcoming congressional election among likely voters, in large part because political independents now favor Republican candidates by about as large a margin as they backed Barack Obama in 2008 and congressional Democratic candidates four years ago.

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press was conducted Aug. 25-Sept. 6 among 2,816 registered voters, including 2,053 voters considered the most likely to vote on Nov. 2. The survey finds that 50% of likely voters say they will vote for the Republican in their district, while 43% favor the Democratic candidate.

Republican and Democratic voters overwhelmingly support their party’s candidates. The GOP’s advantage comes as a result of their 49% to 36% lead among independent and other non-partisan voters who are likely to vote in November.

The Republican Party’s overall lead is only evident when the sample is narrowed to likely voters. Among all registered voters, preferences are evenly divided. The race also is even among all independents and other non-partisans, but the GOP’s advantage swells to 13 points among independent likely voters.
This is mostly anti-incumbency. What's striking though is how big indies are going for Republicans in the most likely voter category. And checking the link there's a huge "enthusiasm gap" that's going to damage Democratic chances. Yet, the fluidity of earlier declared allegiances among independent over the past five years reflects what political scientists call "dealigning" tendencies within the electorate. And while dissatisfaction with President Obama is driving voter discontent --- and the Dems will control the executive in the run-up to 2012 --- the fickle allegiances of independents means that Republicans will have their work cut out for them if they pick up one or both chambers of Congress. Too much gridlock and intransigence will drive folks further away from both parties in future elections. Frankly, these trends are mostly temporary. Much depends on how things work out over the next few years. I think this is a bit premature, for example: "Disillusioned by Obama's Policies, Independents Make U-Turn Toward GOP."