While 45 percent of voters overall say they approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, just 37 percent of independents believe that. Obama has a 12 point advantage among all voters on the issue of “who has presented a clearer plan for dealing with the economy – Obama or Romney?” But among independents that flips to an eight point advantage for Romney.

Even on the issue of Romney’s record in business, independent voters are more sympathetic to the Republican. Among all voters, more thought that Romney in his work as a corporate investor did more to cut jobs than create them (42 percent to 36 percent). But among independents, that flips to a six point advantage for Romney – 43-37 percent.

So, why isn’t Romney ahead?

As ABC pollster Gary Langer points out, the Democratic base is more energized and engaged.