Independents taking second look at Obama

Jan. 24, 2011 at 11:07 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama may be back in favor with independent voters who helped elect him, then helped boot House Democrats out of power, polls indicate.

Several national polls released during the past week indicated Obama's approval rating is on the upswing among voters who said they aren't affiliated with either major political party, Politico reported.

In two polls, Obama improved his standing with independent voters by more than 10 points.

An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll indicated he had 46 percent approval among independents, an 11-point increase since December. A CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll showed a 15 percent jump for Obama among independents, to 56 percent approval.

Analysts offered several reasons why independents seem to think more highly of Obama, including his response to the Tucson shooting spree that killed six people and injured 13 and his willingness to work with congressional Republicans on reaching a deal to extend tax cuts enacted during George W. Bush's administration.

Republican pollster David Winston told Politico Obama recently provided a good appeal to the political middle.

"There are two events that have occurred that are significant and I think people are trying to think through: He agreed to work with the Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts and, two, he delivered a good speech in Tucson," Winston said.

Independent voters may be in the political center, Winston cautioned, but they aren't in the "ideological center," so they're a difficult bunch for Obama to corral and hold.

"Independents are a center-right group," he said. "That's why Republicans have been able to put together majorities and that's the challenge to the president."

Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein said Obama recently portrayed an even-handedness that drew independents to him originally.

"I don't think they're necessarily looking at Democrats again. They're looking for leadership," Gerstein said. "Why has Obama rebounded? First and foremost, he heard the message about working together and that there has to be more compromise."

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