Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Looking at the swing voters

Our national poll last week found that 37% of voters were definitely planning to go Republican this year and 34% were definitely planning to support Democrats- that leaves 29% of the electorate up for grabs- who are those swing voters?

The voters who will determine the balance of control for the next Congress are a pretty Democratic leaning group- 62% voted for Barack Obama last year while 36% voted for John McCain. They only approve of Obama by a 52/37 margin though. The fact that his disapproval and the support McCain received from them is basically the same indicates that Obama hasn't really lost any of these voters yet. But the drop from 62% who voted for him to 52% who now approve of him does suggest a lot of them haven't really decided whether they think he's a good President or not.

They're pretty divided on their feelings about health care with 45% opposed to Obama's plan and 41% in support. That suggests the issue is pretty much a wash with these voters- some are more likely to vote Democratic if the party makes progress on it but others will be turned off. There's little such division when it comes to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell though- 64% of the swing voters supporting letting gays serve openly in the military with only 31% opposed.

Although this has little immediate relevance the divide between how these voters see Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee vs. Sarah Palin is pretty remarkable. Romney has a positive 39/24 favorability spread and Huckabee's is 32/22. But Palin's is 27/57! Republican candidates are going to be a lot better off coming across as Romney like than Palinesque this fall.

The overall takeaway from this look at swing voters? They are a Democratic leaning lot but the party needs to accomplish something in Congress between now and November if they're going to seal the deal. Otherwise they're open to voting Republican, but not if the GOP's candidates are too extreme.

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