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Obama’s Independents Problem

2:35 PM, Apr 20, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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Yesterday, Jay Cost discussed President Obama’s problem with independents, noting that Obama started to lose independents by the truckload when the debate over Obamacare heated up and “has never won [them] back.”  Today, a new Quinnipiac poll further highlights the extent of the trouble that Obama faces in this regard. 

Man and Superman.

Man and Superman.

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed an exceptionally large number of respondents, and therefore its sampling of independents is quite large — it surveyed 946 independents, all of them reported to be registered voters. So what does this survey tell us about independents’ reflections on the first 3-1/2 years (or so) of “hope and change”? Let’s take a look.

Do independents think they are “better off or worse off financially” than they were four years ago?  By a margin of 14 percentage points (46 to 32 percent), they think they are “worse off,” rather than “better off.”  

Are independents “satisfied” with “the way things are going in the nation today”?  By a margin of 54 points (77 to 23 percent), they are at least somewhat “dissatisfied,” rather than at least somewhat “satisfied.”  Even worse for Obama, 45 percent are “very dissatisfied,” while only 2 percent are “very satisfied.” 

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (the recognized authority on such matters), we are now almost three years removed from the end of the recession that Obama inherited.  So, what do independents think of the Obama “recovery”?  By a margin of 41 points (69 to 28 percent), they think the country is still “in a recession now.” 

“Who do [independents] trust to do a better job of handling the economy, President Obama or the Republicans in Congress?”  By a margin of 13 points (48 to 35 percent), they trust the GOP members of Congress.

What do independents think of Obamacare, the defining legislation of Obama’s term?  By a margin of 24 points (57 to 33 percent), they think Congress should “repeal it.”

To recap, by a margin of 14 points, independents think they are worse off financially, rather than better off financially, than they were four years ago.  By a margin of 54 points, they think the country is headed in the wrong, rather than the right, direction — and those who are “very dissatisfied” with the country’s direction outnumber those who are “very satisfied” with its direction by better than 20 to 1.  By a margin of 41 points, they think we are still in the midst of (what they regard as) a 4-year recession, rather than in the midst of a (multi-year) recovery.  By a margin of 13 points, they trust congressional Republicans over Obama on the economy.  And by a margin of 24 points, they want Obama’s signature legislation to be repealed. 

To say these are poor numbers for an incumbent would be an obvious understatement.

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