Obama May Lead, But Romney In Good Shape With True 'Swing' Independents

Remember true 'swing' independents in battleground states are rented and not owned by political parties. The bright spot for Romney is that these indepdendents prefer "opportunity" over notions of "fairness." Politico's James Hohmann has more:

The majority of those who call themselves politically independent typically lean toward one major party or the other, but about 15 percent of the total electorate (roughly 40 percent of independents) are thought to authentically swing between parties.

Obama won 57 percent of this group in 2008. In this poll, which took place in mid-March, he led Romney 44 percent to 38 percent.

As the general election unofficially begins, the Obama reelection campaign’s dual challenge is to convince these voters that Romney is more conservative than they think and that Obama is ideologically closer to them than they realize.

The backdrop of the poll is a decades-old debate among Democrats about messaging and an even longer-term battle between those who prioritize growth and ‘opportunity’ against those who prioritize redistribution and ‘fairness.’ The ‘fairness’ school of thought is more attractive to the party base; the ‘opportunity’ message speaks to what some pollsters and strategists consider the vital center.

Third Way, solidly in the latter camp, points to several data points that they say demonstrate Democratic candidates generally (including the president) are better off framing their plans as designed to create future opportunity rather than make the present system fairer.

In the poll, the greatest fears are about the future: Fifty-nine percent of swing independents are strongly confident they will be able to pay all their bills over the next 12 months, but only eight percent are strongly confident that the next generation of Americans will be able to find good, well-paying jobs.

The poll of 1,000 self-identified independents who voted in the 2008 presidential election was conducted March 8-18 in 12 states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The margin of error for the full set of independents is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. For the smaller subset of swing independents, the margin of error is 5.1 percentage points. Because African-Americans and Latinos overwhelmingly vote Democrat, the sample of swing independents is 83 percent white.

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published this page in In The News 2012-04-10 11:26:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy