Politico poll shows independents flocking to GOP

Politico’s new poll reinforces the fact that momentum remains strong with fired-up Republicans, mainly because of fired-up independents.  The numbers look daunting for Democrats with just one week to go before Election Day, and in many places, past the time many have already voted.  And it’s not as though the Democrats didn’t have warnings that their massive expansion of government wouldn’t have dire consequences:

Expressing deep dissatisfaction with President Obama’s policies and performance, independents have increasingly sided with conservatives in the belief that government grew too large, too fast under Obama—and that it can no longer be trusted. In the final pre-election Battleground Poll, Republicans hold a 14-point edge among independents and lead overall, 47 percent to 42 percent, in the generic ballot match up. …

It’s the flight of independents that presents the biggest challenge for Democrats. Independents helped lift Democrats to power in 2006 and pushed Obama into office in 2008. But in last year’s Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races, these voters registered grave concerns and did it again by breaking for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in his upset victory in January.

Instead of heeding the warnings, Democrats proceeded with the $1 trillion health care law and banked on an economic recovery that hasn’t come.

On health care: 62 percent of independents hold an unfavorable view of the new law (compared to 52 percent overall). Only six percent of independents view the legislation very favorably.

On the economy: 66 percent of independents say the recovery legislation is not working (compared to 57 percent overall). The percentage saying the “stimulus” is not working spiked 12 points since Labor Day.

The poll itself actually shows milder splits than others, such as Gallup, in the generic ballot and the split among independents.  The GOP wins the generic ballot by six points, 48/42, and independents break their way by 14.  Those are the consistent numbers from the Battleground poll this cycle, though.  Five weeks ago, the same pollster had the generic ballot at 47/43, and the previous poll to that had it at 43/43 even.  The idea that Democrats have staged some sort of comeback has no basis, and right now the best they can do is to hope most people voted early before their position eroded even further.

On favorability, the news gets worse for Democrats.  Barack Obama is now underwater in this measure, 46/51.  The Democratic Party has slipped below the GOP, 42/50 to 50/41, respectively.  The Tea Party does better than Democrats, too, at 41/38.  Interestingly, Obama’s job approval is very closely linked to his favorability now, 45/50, with 42% strongly disapproving.  His personal likability as a distinct advantage seems to have dissipated when asked as part of a series of other people and institutions, although a follow-up question asking specifically about Obama “as a person” generated a 65/24 response.

Obama has a bigger problem on the issues, as do Congressional Democrats.  The poll shows a dead heat between the GOP and Democrats on traditionally Democratic issues like health care and Social Security.  The GOP has significant leads on both when framed as a question between the GOP and Obama, with leads of 49/42 on health care and 47/39 on Social Security.  The GOP also beats Obama and the Democrats on the deficit (50/34, 51/37), the economy ( 48/42, 46/45), and “sharing your values (44/43 , 46/44).  Job creation is a dead heat between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, but the GOP leads by 11 points when pitted against Obama.

Not surprisingly, this translates into Obama’s re-elect numbers.  Only 30% will definitely vote for Obama in 2012, while 35% have already decided to vote against him.  Adding in “probables”, the re-elect split goes to 40/46, and with leaners 42/48.  Don’t expect to see Obama on the trail much this week with those numbers.