According to the new Pew Research poll, Independents are fleeing Mitt Romney and embracing
President Obama at a brisk clip. Obama’s support with Independents now tops 50%.
The new Pew Research poll found that Mitt Romney is in the midst of an epic slide with Independent voters. In November, Romney led Obama, 53%-42% with Independents. The margin stayed just about the same in mid-January as Romney led the president, 50%-40% with Independents, but something has happened over the past month as Independents now support Obama, 52%-44%.
President Obama has gained eleven points with Independents over the last month, while Mitt Romney has lost eight points. Going back to November, Obama has gained ten points with Independents while Romney has dropped eleven. The overall match up between Obama and Romney has swung six points since November from Obama leading 49%-47% to Obama leading 52%-44%.
The problem for Mitt Romney is that trust in him has collapsed with Independents. The number of Independents who believed Romney to be honest and trustworthy has dropped from 52%-41%, while the those who don’t believe that he is honest and trustworthy has risen thirteen points from 32%-45%. The number of Independents who believe that he is qualified to be president has dropped from 58%-48%. Fifty three percent of Independents now hold the belief that Romney does not take consistent positions, and a whopping 60% don’t believe that he understands the needs of people like them.
The attacks by his primary opponents are definitely damaging Mitt Romney, but his move to the right in order to win the Republican nomination and his constant demonstrations that can’t relate to average Americans are likely doing more damage to his image than the nomination fight. More bad news for Mitt Romney comes in the fact that a majority of Republicans (55%-36%) continue the continuing primary process a good thing for the Republican Party.
The Republican strategy to get Mitt Romney elected was centered on hiding his weaknesses by avoiding a long primary fight. The Republican Party was hoping that they could fool Independent voters into supporting Mitt Romney in the fall. Romney’s whole electability argument was based on his performance with Independents. Now that any advantage that he once had with Independents is gone, so is the case for his electability.
Everything President Obama has done in the months since his announcement of the American Jobs Act through the recent decision on contraception has been done with an eye towards moderates and Independents. As the Republican primary has forced the Republican candidates to move more to the right, President Obama has been able to stake his claim to the middle. Along with an improving economy, this is the reason why Independents are coming back to Obama.
Romney is also feeling the consequences of his negative advertising campaign. A 2010 Zogby poll found that Democrats and Independents are the most likely to be turned off by negative political advertising. Thirty seven percent of Democrats and thirty five percent of Independents said that negative political advertising turns them off.
When given the choice between Mitt Romney’s negative ads, dodges of questions about his taxes and finances, and ever shifting positions, or a growing economy and Obama’s positive message that America is coming back, Independents are currently choosing the president’s message.
The math for Republicans is simple. They can’t defeat Obama without winning Independents, and the Republican Party and Mitt Romney are doing everything in their power to send Independents fleeing back into the waiting arms of President Obama.