Understanding Independents and Independent Women
Independents aren’t happy.
Eighty-eight percent are concerned about federal spending; nearly two-thirds (63 percent) feel they are losing some of their personal freedom; eighty-one percent are concerned about the government taking over health care, and almost three-quarters (73 percent) want to support candidates who favor repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Independents are currently a highly-motivated group; 68 percent said they were “absolutely certain” they will vote in the 2010 midterm elections.
“While the current numbers look promising for Republicans, the GOP should recognize that these voters remain up for grabs,” say Heather Higgins, CEO of Independent Women’s Voice, and pollster Douglas Schoen in the Wall Street Journal. Schoen and Higgins also co-authored an article on the shift in the attitudes of independents for Politico, and Higgins wrote a piece for National Review on the core values of independents, as reflected in the poll results. See the media responses to the poll. We can't resist singling out one of the latest articles--a perceptive piece in the Wall Street Journal by Kimberley A. Strassel that cited the IWV poll and picked up the pro-business mindset of independent voters.
Understanding Independents and Independent Women links:
- PDF version of the full poll
- Sept. 15-16 Poll Reinterviews PDF
- IWV Press Release
- OP-ED in the Wall Street Journal
IWV Survey of Independents Shows Embracing Conservative, Free Market Philosophy; Leaning Toward Republican Party
Douglas E. Schoen, LLC. on behalf of the Independent Women's Voice conducted a survey with a national representative sample of 1,000 Independent likely voters, between August 21st and August 30th, 2010. We also conducted focus groups in June and in September, and additional survey of 400 Independent likely voters, between September 15th and 16th. Key findings include:
Independents, Who Disproportionately Voted for Barack Obama in 2008, Today Are Very Discouraged about the State of Politics and the direction of Our Country.
- Fifty-two percent of these Independents voted for Barack Obama, compared to 44 percent who voted for John McCain.
- Seventy percent believe the country is on the wrong track, while just 18 percent believe it's on the right track.
- Two-thirds believe the political process has gotten worse in recent years compared to just 5 percent who think it's gotten better.
- When asked about how often they felt the federal government does what you would like them to do, just 7 percent responded “most of the time,” compared to 59 percent who said “rarely” or “never.”
Independents Now Lean Toward Supporting Republican Candidates in 2010 and Toward the Republican Party
- In the August survey, Republicans had a 14-point lead among Independents in the upcoming Congressional elections, 37 percent to 23 percent. 40 percent remained undecided. In the September 15-16 survey, Independents were more heavily trending Republican: 40 percent planned to vote for Republicans, compared to just 18 percent who planned to vote Democrat. Forty-two percent still were undecided.
- In the August survey, Independents who are absolutely certain to vote break better than two-to- one for the Republicans, 42 percent to 20 percent.
- Independents say they lean toward the Republican Party rather than the Democrats, 50 percent to 25 percent.
- They say the GOP is closer to their views on issues, 52 percent to 30 percent.
- In the September poll, 53 percent of Independents thought that Republicans were more committed to cutting spending and taxes, while just 18 percent thought Democrats were more committed (30 percent weren't sure).
Independents Lean Toward Republicans Despite a Generally Unfavorable Opinion of the Party and its Leadership
- Independents view the Republican Party unfavorably, 54 percent compared to 39 percent with a favorable opinion.
- Their opinion of the Republican Congressional leadership is also generally unfavorable, 58 percent to 32 percent.
- Independents say the GOP is heading in a direction that makes them less likely to vote Republican rather than more likely to (35 percent to 32 percent).
- Fourteen percent of Independents who were originally Republicans say they left the Party and became Independents because they felt the Republicans spent too much.
Independents' View of Democrats Is Even Worse
- The Democratic Party is viewed unfavorably 57 percent to 38 percent. Independents’ view of Democratic Congressional Leadership is even worse, with 68 percent unfavorable compared to 27 percent favorable.
- Barack Obama’s job approval has sunk to 38 percent, with 60 percent saying they disapprove. However, President Obama himself is viewed slightly more favorably (43 percent to 55 percent), with 53 percent saying they like him personally (compared to 39 percent who do not).
- By more than a three-to-one margin (62 percent to 18 percent), Independents say that the Democratic Party is headed in a direction that makes them less likely to vote Democratic in the future.
Democrats' Big Government Agenda Pushes Independents Away
- Six-in-ten of those who said they were less likely to vote Democrat in the future cite the party's propensity to tax and spend too much; one-quarter cite the new health care law.
- Forty-two percent of Independents say Democratic leadership has increased spending and taxation too much, and 34 percent say they should be cutting spending and taxation more.
- One-quarter of Independents who were originally Democrats say they left the Party and became Independents because the Democrats want government to spend and tax too much, and support a large, intrusive government.
- Nearly half (49 percent) believe the Democratic leadership has not only failed to properly address the economic crisis, but they believe they have made our economic problems worse.
Concern about Too Big, Too Intrusive Government Drives These Voters
- Eighty-eight percent of Independents are concerned with the federal government’s increasing level of spending, while 11 percent are not concerned.
- Eighty-three percent are concerned with the federal government’s overall level of taxation, while 14 percent are not concerned.
- Seventy-nine percent are concerned with the growing size and scope of our federal government, while 19 percent are not concerned.
- Independents believe that what would help most with a national recovery is cutting spending (65 percent) and cutting taxes (44 percent).
- In the September poll, more than half of Independents (52 percent) expressed support for extending all Bush tax cuts, while 37 percent thought that those tax cuts should be maintained only for those making under $200,000. More than half (55 percent) of Independents asked in September expressed a preference for cutting government spending rather than President Obama's proposed additional $50 billion on infrastructure spending. Twenty-nine percent wanted the infrastructure spending and 16 percent weren't sure. Two-thirds prefer government to play the role it did in America in the early 20th century, where people relied mostly on themselves, the private sector and voluntary associations. Only twenty percent prefer government to play a role as it does in Europe where it is more centrally involved in the day-to-day lives of people.
Independents Feel They Are Losing Personal Freedoms and Too Big Government Makes Them Less Secure
- Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Independents say they feel they are losing some of their personal freedoms as a result of some of the laws government has passed and the way government is expanding. Thirty percent say this is not really a problem.
- Sixty-eight percent say these laws have gone too far and are too intrusive, while just 18 percent say that we have lost some personal freedoms from government laws, but that the laws that have been passed are necessary.
- Two-thirds say they would feel less secure if government increased the level of its involvement in social services that are provided like health care, education, and financial regulation (just 26 percent would feel more secure)
- Sixty-five percent approve of the government providing a social safety net for those in need, while one-quarter disapprove. However, 55 percent say the social welfare programs currently cover too many people, while 20 percent say they cover too few people. Forty-five percent say social safety nets should restrict who qualifies and not offer disincentives to positive and constructive behavior, compared to just nine percent who say they should be more expansive.
Independents Oppose Obamacare
- Eighty-one percent of Independents are concerned with the federal government taking over health care. Just sixteen percent are not concerned.
- Voters think repealing the health care bill is an important issue that should be considered during this election. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) think it is important that the candidates they support in the upcoming election support repealing and replacing the health care legislation. Just 20 percent think it is not important.
- Those who disapprove of the new health care law do so because it will make coverage more expensive (41 percent), it gives government too large and intrusive of a role in health care (37 percent), and it does not address the real problems with the system (29 percent).
- Forty-eight percent say that even if they agree with a candidate on everything else, they won’t vote for him if they disagree on health care.
Other Issues That Are Important
- Eighty-six percent are concerned with immigration in our country, while just eleven percent are not concerned. More than six in ten (61 percent) approve of Arizona’s new immigration law, while just a quarter disapprove.
- Nine in ten (89 percent) are concerned with terrorism and with America having a strong national defense, while 9 percent are not concerned.
- Sixty-four percent oppose putting a mosque near Ground Zero, while 21 percent favor it. Even if they agree with a candidate on everything else, if they disagree on the Ground Zero Mosque 46% say they won’t vote for that candidate.
Independents Are More Engaged in the Political Process
- 71% say citizens are paying more attention to politics this year, while 18% say they are paying the same amount of attention and 8% say less attention.