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What Independent Voters Want in 2010

3:25 PM, Sep 15, 2009 • By EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH
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Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie and respected pollster Whit Ayers have joined forces to launch Resurgent Republic, what Ayers describes the "Democracy Corps" of the right. Founded by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, Democracy Corps-like Resurgent Republic-conducts focus groups, cites trends, analyzes polls, and performs other publicly available research that aims to shape the public debate about the role of government in our lives.

Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie and respected pollster Whit Ayers have joined forces to launch Resurgent Republic, what Ayers describes the "Democracy Corps" of the right. Founded by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, Democracy Corps-like Resurgent Republic-conducts focus groups, cites trends, analyzes polls, and performs other publicly available research that aims to shape the public debate about the role of government in our lives. Speaking at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast at the St. Regis in Washington, Ayers and Gillespie explained their findings from a series of five nationwide focus groups they conducted this spring and summer. Surveying independent voters-like younger voters, Hispanic men and women, small business owners, and others-Ayers and Gillespie found that the independents who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are "closer to Republicans than Democrats" on fiscal issues and health care. One Ohio woman, they recall, expressed her concern that "We don't know where the money is going and where it is coming from," speaking about the recent unprecedented levels of spending in Washington. Critical of the bailouts, seeing "cash for clunkers" another example of government inefficiency, and skeptical about health care reform, the independent voters think that too much legislation is being pushed through congress too soon. The bottom line, as Ayers explained, was that these voters, who supported Barack Obama in 2008, are very undecided about how to vote in the 2010 congressional elections. "They still like Barack Obama, they want him to succeed-but are discomforted by degree of debt, by the proportion of spending, by what they see as mortgaging our children's future," Ayers said. Gillespie added that these independent voters believe that we will "leave to our children and grandchildren a country less prosperous, with less opportunity than what our parents and grandparents left for us." When they conducted the survey, two Hispanic women, Gillespie recalled, were in tears over this concern. While their emotions are not directed toward Obama, Ayers and Gillespie note that the independents view Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other Democratic leaders in Congress, in a "harshly negative light." If these trends continue, Ayers and Gillespie think, the Republicans will have a very good year in 2010. When these same independents voted Democrat in 2008, it was because they wanted change, specifically in the form of less government spending, and they thought that they would get such change by voting Democrat rather than Republican. Now that Obama's policies "will double debt in the next five years and triple it in the next ten years," Gillespie says, the independents are seriously reconsidering how to cast their ballot in 2010.