Additional Research

Obama Faces Uphill Challenge With Independents One Year From Election

November 8, 2011

Resurgent Republic conducted a survey of 1000 American voters October 30 through November 2, 2011, with full results available here. Following are key highlights pertaining to President Obama’s perception among Independent voters:

If President Obama's reelection campaign is a referendum on the incumbent, as are almost all reelection campaigns, then he remains in deep trouble a year out from the election, because Independents believe the country is worse off than when he was inaugurated.

When evaluating the condition of the country, today a majority of Independent voters:

The only measure on which Independents believe the country is better off is safety from terrorists, where 36 percent say we are better, and 22 percent worse, yet 41 percent say about the same.

Because Americans believe the country has declined on Obama's watch, his reelection numbers are stuck in the low 40s.

  • Only 42 percent of American voters think Obama deserves reelection, while a majority – 51 percent – thinks it is time for someone else. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from our August survey, which shows 42 percent deserves reelection/52 percent time for someone else.

  • Only one-third of Independent voters say Obama deserves reelection: 33 percent deserves reelection/54 percent time for someone else.

  • When pitted against a generic Republican candidate, Obama stands at 42 percent versus 43 percent for the Republican, essentially unchanged from our 43/43 finding in August, and weaker than our 43/40 finding last January. Past elections show that undecided voters are very unlikely to break in favor of the incumbent.

  • Independent voters prefer the Republican candidate over Obama by a double-digit margin – 43 to 32 percent.

A majority of voters in swing states says it is time for someone else to be President.

We have defined swing states here as eight states that voted for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008 (CO, FL, IA, NC, NM, NV, OH, VA), plus four other states whose 2010 Republican victories make them fertile ground for a Republican presidential nominee (MI, NH, PA, WI). In those 12 states:

  • A majority of voters, 53 percent, thinks it is time for someone else to be President; only 40 percent think Obama deserves reelection.

  • Independents in those states overwhelmingly think it is time for someone else, 61 percent; only 28 percent think he deserves reelection.

Voters split on Obama's job approval overall, with intensity on the side of disapproval, and they overwhelmingly disapprove of his handling of the economy.

  • Overall 50 percent approve of his job performance, a three-point increase since August, but Republicans and Independents remain very negative. Approve/disapprove ratings are 13/85 among Republicans and 43/53 among Independents. Only Democrats approve at 88/9.

  • After a resounding defeat in 2010 and reenergized efforts to win back the center, Obama's standing with Independents has deteriorated over the course of the year. In the January 2011 Resurgent Republic survey, Independents split evenly on Obama's job approval/disapproval at 47/47, versus 43/53 today.

  • Voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy: 43 percent approve and 54 percent disapprove. Once again Republicans and Independents are very negative: 12/88 among Republicans and 35/62 among Independents. Only Democrats remain positive at 78/18.

  • Intensity is on the negative side on both questions. On overall job performance, 26 percent strongly approve while 36 percent strongly disapprove. On the economy, 20 percent strongly approve and 42 percent strongly disapprove. Tellingly, among Independent voters strong disapproval on Obama's economic performance outweighs strong approval by almost four-to-one: 12 percent strongly approve and 45 percent strongly disapprove.

Republicans and Independents think Barack Obama and the Democrats control Washington, while Democrats think Republicans in Congress are in control.

In yet another indicator of the low esteem with which Washington is held in the country, each party views the other one as in control. Republicans view Obama and the Democrats as controlling Washington by 67 to 15 percent, while Democrats view Republicans as in control by 55 to 26 percent. Independents split more evenly, but still view Obama/Democrats in control by 39 to 34 percent.

Read the full report: Voters Believe America is Worse Off Than When Obama Took Office

Filed under: Independent Voters, Polling Analysis, and Obama Approval Rating