President Obama faces head winds from independents, an important voting bloc for re-election in 2012. Many of them think well of him personally, but they are disenchanted. They don't like his policies, and they see him as inexperienced.
And most daunting of all for the incumbent, only 38% of independents think he deserves to be re-elected, with 53% feeling that someone new deserves a chance.
These are key findings from an IBD/TIPP poll conducted in early September.
Independents are particularly harsh in their view of the president's economic stewardship. Job losses have hurt independent households, and jobs will be their primary concern when they pull the lever in 2012.
The ineffectiveness of the president's stimulus package has also diminished independents' confidence in the government's ability to grow the economy.
In 2008, Obama carried independents by a decisive 52% to 44% margin and took 30 states. In 2004, John Kerry narrowly won independents over George Bush 49% to 48%, reversing Bush's 47% to 45% win against Al Gore in 2000.
In only nine of the last 32 months has the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership index been above 50, and the positive months were all in 2009. Since January 2010, the index has stayed in the negative territory (below 50). The averages were 57.5, 44.2 and 44.6 for 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Independents also believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Only 19% of them are satisfied with America's direction and 80% are not satisfied.
They've taken the brunt of the job losses, and fear of future unemployment runs high among them. Over a third (34%) have at least one person in their household looking for full-time work, compared with 24% for Democrats and 21% for Republicans. More than one in four (42%) independents worry a family member may lose his or her job in the next 12 months.
Only 15% give Obama an A or B for his handling of the economy, 16% give him good grades for managing the federal budget, and just 12% see him favorably for creating jobs and economic growth.
These low grades more than cancel out Obama's non-economic successes, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. Nearly eight in 10 (79%) independents say his handling of the economy weighs more in their minds than getting the al-Qaida leader and mastermind of 9/11 (11%).
An overwhelming share of independents (74%) like Obama personally, and 59% believe he has the vision to be president. A similar share (58%) also believe the president cares about the needs of people like them, and 59% think he's worked hard to bring about change compared with 40% who say that he has mostly talked about it.
On the other hand, 62% disapprove of his policies, and by 63% to 35% they think he lacks the experience to be an effective president. A majority of independents (51%) do not believe that he is someone they would be proud to have as president; only 42% would be proud.
• Mayur is president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which directs the IBD/TIPP Poll that was the most accurate in the last two presidential elections.
Do you think Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected or does someone new deserve a chance?
|Deserves to be re-elected||44%||79%||13%||38%|
|Someone new deserves a chance||50%||17%||84%||53%|
Please tell me, generally speaking, if the description applies to him or if the description does not apply to him.
A. How about: He is someone you would be proud to have as president?
|It describes Obama||48%||83%||17%||42%|
|It does not describe Obama||48%||17%||81%||51%|
B. How about: He lacks the vision to be president?
|It describes Obama||40%||17%||70%||39%|
|It does not describe Obama||58%||82%||28%||59%|
C. How about: He cares about the needs of people like you?
It describes Obama
It does not describe Obama
D. How about: He has the experience to be an effective president?
|It describes Obama||42%||76%||13%||35%|
|It does not describe Obama||55%||22%||83%||63%|
Which of the following statements comes CLOSEST to your opinion of President Obama?
I like Obama personally and I approve of most of his policies
I like Obama personally, but I disapprove of many of his policies
I don't like Obama personally, but I do approve of most of his policies
I don't like Obama personally and I disapprove of many of his policies