At a recent event, Geoff Feinberg from GfK gave a presentation about Independents and how they were the crucial swing voters for the Republicans in 2010. During the question and answer period, Murray Edelman (a good friend of Edison’s) expressed his curiosity about independents who said they were moderate. Well, Murray, here is the information you asked for, and thanks for the inspiration for this blog post!
This graph tracks the total national independent vote for U.S. House since 2004:
Edison exit polls since 2004 show that the independent vote had gone towards the Democrats until 2010, when it swung heavily in the Republicans direction.
The next graph shows the national vote for U.S. House among independents who call themselves moderates. Moderate Independents make up 14% of all voters:
Moderate Independents broke slightly for the Republicans in 2010, the first time they have done that since before 2004 and this demographic group is a big reason the Republicans scored such big gains in 2010.
What are President Obama’s chances of winning this group back in 2012?
We can look at the favorable ratings for the major political parties.
Among Moderate Independents we see that the Democratic Party has higher unfavorables than favorables but the Republican Party’s ratings are even more negative:
On the other hand, Moderate Independents gave the President a positive job approval rating of 52%-47%, so he is more popular with this group then with the public at large and more popular than either major political party. In the 2008 exit poll, Barack Obama won among Moderate Independents 56% to 40% over John McCain.
So as President Obama’s decisions are analyzed over the next few months, they should be examined on how they are received by these ultimate swing voters – Moderate Independents.