Opinion Brief

Why are independents abandoning Obama?

Independent voters' support for the Obama administration has slumped to below 40 percent, according to a new poll. What has he done to lose the backing of this key demographic? 

When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, he did so with the support of 54 percent of self-described "centrist" voters. Less than two years later, only 39 percent of independents are happy with the president, according to a new poll. A total of 61 percent say they are either "disappointed" or "angry" with the Obama administration, and 53 percent say they are "extremely or somewhat likely" to vote Republican in November. Why is Obama losing the independents' vote? (Watch a CNN discussion about Obama's independents predicament)

He ignored economic issues: Independents began deserting Obama a year ago, says Andrew Malcolm in the L.A. Times, round about the time he started "relentlessly" pushing health care over "jobs and the economy," despite polls saying the latter issues were "uppermost on voters' minds." Now, a "stubbornly sluggish economic recovery, continuing high unemployment, [and] growing concerns over deficits and spending" are eroding his support. "Crucial independent voters abandoning Obama, now under 40%, lowest ever"

He tricked independents: In 2008, Obama turned GOP-leaning independents away from John McCain by "promising them a new, post-partisan, centrist direction," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Of course, with Obamacare and the stimulus package, the "radical nature" of his agenda has now become clear, and "the realization has slowly filtered out to those less engaged in national politics." Only by "dramatically changing course on policy" can Obama now win back these essential voters."Gallup: Obama approval among independents down to 38%"

It's all down to the oil spill and the health care bill: Health care and the BP oil spill are the key issues that "ultimately soured these independent voters on Obama," says pollster Jan van Lohuizen, quoted at the National Journal. Independents disliked the "process of the debate" more than the "substance" of the health care bill, and felt disappointed by Obama's lack of "strong leadership" on the oil spill. "For Congressional Dems, time is almost up."

Independents just don't like big-spending governments: As a rule, independents "tend to be closer to Republicans on economic issues and closer to Democrats on social issues," says John Avlon at CNN. As this period of governance has been marked by "unprecedented government spending" and "increased polarization," it's no real surprise that these "deficit hawks" are flocking towards the Republicans. For the Democrats, it spells bad news in November."Democrats, prepare for independents' day."

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