Major Republican group sees weak economy key to attracting independent voters
April 26th, 2012
01:25 PM ET
2 years ago

Major Republican group sees weak economy key to attracting independent voters

Washington (CNN) – Some of the leading Republican pollsters said they believe their party has a growing chance to grab a large number of independent voters because of their negative view of the economy, especially as experts question whether the economic recovery is beginning to slow.

With the nation politically divided, political analysts said the election's outcome could come down to which party better persuades this key bloc of voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2008 but were a major reason Republicans won back the House of Representatives two years later.

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The pollsters, working for the Republican polling and research group Resurgent Republic, conducted 24 focus groups of people who voted for Obama four years ago but are undecided so far this election cycle. Specifically they took the pulse of key demographic groups: Hispanics, blue collar Catholics, young voters and suburban women.

They said they found dire views of the economy prevalent throughout the sessions.

In a briefing to reporters Wednesday, Resurgent said in the sessions, voters generally found the president personally likeable and wanted him to succeed, but there was a large sense of "economic discouragement" among the group. The independents expressed strong concerns about the nation's unemployment rate as well as signs of underemployment. Resurgent said these concerns led them to have hope Mitt Romney could grab independents come November.

Take for example the blue collar Catholics. Neither Obama nor Romney has done particularly well with them in the past. They made up 27% of the 2008 electorate, and Obama won the demographic 54% to 45% the same year.

Pollster John McLaughlin conducted focus groups of blue collar Catholics in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. He said he found they believed they were carrying a large burden for the country while others are playing by different rules. The participants described the economic situation with such words as 'pessimistic' and 'dour,' according to McLaughlin.

"Whoever appeals to this target demographic will do so by connecting with their personal sense of suffering and the issues they care about, primarily their desire for quality, family-supporting jobs," McLaughlin and Haley Barbour wrote in a memo outlining their findings. Barbour, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a key adviser to Resurgent Republic, most recently served as governor of Mississippi.

The memo's takeaway: it will come down to which candidate better persuades these workers he would be the better economic steward going forward.

"If you look at this data of people who voted for Obama, who are undecided, who are representative of swing voters in the United States, the more facts they know the less likely they are to be for Obama," Barbour told reporters. "They already feel the economy is much worse than being reported. Unemployment is worst. Underemployment is under reported. And the more facts they get confirm their negative view of the economy and the direction the country has been going on. Obviously Republicans will want to make that the center piece of the campaign."

In his campaign appearances the president points out how his administration has helped the economy recover since he took office.

"Three years ago we can look back and say that we've made progress; that we're moving on the right track. Over the last two years, we've created over 4 million jobs, 600,000 in the last quarter one," the president said at a fundraiser earlier this month in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. "Now, things are still tough out there and we've still got a long ways to go, but there's no doubt that the economy is getting stronger, businesses are hiring again, the stock market is back. And the question then becomes, how do we build on what we've been able to do over the last several years to deal with some underlying problems that actually preceded the recession?"

Recent polls have shown the nation's independent voters seem to be persuadable. A Gallup survey of independents taken between April 21 and April 23 shows Obama with a 45% to 43% advantage over Romney, while the former Massachusetts governor was up six points earlier in April.

The New York Times/CBS poll found Romney with a one-point lead among independents last week, while in March Obama had a six-point advantage. A poll by CNN/ORC taken between April 13 and April 15 found Obama with a five-point lead among independents – down from a 15-point advantage in March.

Pollster Ed Goeas said he believes the next 30 days and what the economic reports show in that time could be critical in helping to determine the election's outcome. If the signs turn more negative then "we will then be … in an economic election," he told reporters.

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Filed under: 2012 • Haley Barbour • Mitt Romney
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. scottf

    And the Republican Congress did so much to help the economy right? Wrong!! I googled House of Representatives and it said USELESS HIPOCRITS.

    April 26, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Toni

    Make no mistake about, This election is The middle class workin men & woman & the unions VS The rich, richer & richie rich romney!! GO GETEM DALEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 26, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "Major Republican group sees weak economy key to attracting independent voters"

    This is news? Are you kidding me? This has been the very backbone of their strategery since January 2009. it is what has driven every decision they have made in Congress for 3+ years. It is why the tried to hold the debt limit hostage, threatened default and caused the nation's credit rating to decline. It is why they've blocked almost everything the Dems have proposed doing to help the economy. It is why they threw a gint hissy fit over the stimulus plan and forced it to be smaller than expert economists were saying it needed to be. The list goes on....and yet we're looking at an article that pretends this is something new. Fail.

    April 26, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    Republicans have no credability on any subject are dishonest and piers, Dem landslide coming in Nov !!!!!!!!

    April 26, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Toni

    Gop-- EVERYTHING SUCKS & EVERYTHING BLOWS!!! No it dont 25 months of job growth & guess what MY Man Prez just scared the Speculators out of their thousand dollar suits & gas is coming down 30-40 cents IMMEDIATELY !!!!!!! Everything does not suck & blow. GO GETTEM DALEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 26, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. SUBS 4 VOTES/Dutch Bad Newz, VA/GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    According to the FED, they see growth in the near future and are expecting the unemployment level to drop to 7.8% by the end of the year. I call that progress.

    April 26, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Dave

    My man Daley vs the rich, richer & richie rich romney. Makes me wanna join a UNION.

    April 26, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. wmco

    Great timing. Raise gas prices, stall the economy, and Romney wins.

    April 26, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. T

    How, what did they do.......Rep must think the American people are dump...........we know what is reallty going on and you will pay for it in 2012 !

    April 26, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    the more facts they know the less likely they are to be for Obama,"
    ===================================================
    Well that pretty much sums it up. The clueless will vote for the clueless Obama. The educated and informed will vote for Romney.

    April 26, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. "Can you fix it"...?

    This is what Ann Romney asked Mitt "Can you fix it"...? the economey that is ..."You can she said"..! Well than lets fix it...
    Really folks Mitt who took over ailing business to fix and what did he reralkly do....Romney that is dismantled all for personal gain....so, what is he and Ann up to..? Do they want to dismantle the ountry....?

    April 26, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Woman In California

    THIS independent will be voting once again for the current president.

    The GOP managed to scare and lie their way back into existence in 2010 and I can only hope the eyes of the people are open now and they see what "being afraid" can do. No president in history has had to endure what our current president has. A republican controlled congress (who block all progress) and the TP trash. President Obama has done an amazing job in spite of ALL the odds thrown his way. He has shown he knows when to be tough, decisive and compassionate and I look forward to giving him another four years to restore our country to her ONCE greatness.

    Obama 2012

    April 26, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Curt

    When will the Republicans finally admit that 2 unfunded wars for 10 years is a major cause of whats happened? Just a guess on my part.

    April 26, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "According to the FED, they see growth in the near future and are expecting the unemployment level to drop to 7.8% by the end of the year. I call that progress."

    The GOP/Teatrolls call it a 2012 campaign problem.

    April 26, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Google this date, June 17, 2009. Check out the headlines of the day, and the next day.

    That is the date for the official rollout of GOP obstructionism. On that date, Minority Leader Boehner introduced his health care reform plan, ahead of the Democrats who had just announced that they would be forming committees to write a health care reform bill. Republicans balked at the idea as a waste of time when they already had a piece of legislation ready to be voted on, and demanded a vote. [don't forget these guys were the minority]

    Republicans refused to participate in the committees writing health care reform laws, not unless a vote was taken on their bill in its' original state. The "Party of No" officially was born. They have refused and obstructed everything within their grasp since that time.

    That date is when the "bad economic" rhetoric started about the Stimulus wasn't working. Boehner cited a CBO study claiming that the reforms proposed by Democrats would kill jobs, put more people on government aid, etc. I should point out that Boehner made that claim despite the fact that Democrats had not written a law, nor submitted any proposals to the CBO. They were still forming committees looking for Republicans to join, who flat out refused.

    April 26, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. BLKMANinAmerica

    LOL................really, but the problem with this is repuks STILL have nothing to offer those "independant" voters, nothing other then tax breaks for the wealthy. THAT IS NOT GOING TO CUT THE MUSTARD THIS TIME repuks.

    April 26, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. curious

    It is curious that after 28 straight years of annual deficits from Nixon to Bush, why the republicans are seen as better with the economy than Carter or Clinton. Name one sucessful republican president's handling of the American economy. Willard R-money certainly won't be the first.

    April 26, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Four and The Door

    We already saw in 2010 that reckless spending and ineffective governing by Democrats lost the Independents.
    Once the Republican House was elected, what have we seen? Spending controls and steadily decreasing unemployment. Without voters stepping up in 2010 certainly the national debt would be approaching if not at $20 trillion and spending going forward would be unrestricted.

    Romney 2012 and as many Republican Senators as we can put in office.

    April 26, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    SUBS 4 VOTES/Dutch Bad Newz, VA/GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE
    According to the FED, they see growth in the near future and are expecting the unemployment level to drop to 7.8% by the end of the year. I call that progress.
    ==============================================================================================
    Unemployment has been dropping because people have simply stopped looking for work and dropped out of the workforce. Only the clueless Obama and you think this is a positive sign.

    But now unemployment claims have been rising the last 3 weeks and are approaching 400,000. Indications are that the UK has entered its second recesson and the rest of Europe is a financial disaster zone waiting to implode. When it does, the shock waves will hit here. It will be ironic justice that the first European style socialist President will be adversely affected by the collapse of the socialist system he proposes to institutue here.

    April 26, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. b

    talk about waste of money, how about the do nothing gop they want their pay, but they don't want to do anything

    April 26, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Bill

    Hasn't this been the GOP hope all along? Let the economy sink, so they can win. Won't happen folks – the American people are too smart and do not want to go back to the failed garbage policies they represent. Oh, and here is a little tidbit I know they will be touting in the next week. The economy is expected to add 300,000 new jobs in April. Maybe we can get another press conference with Boner and Cantor looking like they are attending a wake when the good news comes out.

    April 26, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    Only way we can get rid off this problem is by "getting rid off all the rethiglicans from congress and senate". This entire nation knows. World knew.

    April 26, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. mario

    won't work cause the independent are well aware how gop house and senate is working,,, filibuster, is the only think they have in their mine since 2009,,

    April 26, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Blindersoff

    This Independent will again be voting for President Barack Obama. Romney is a loser. He lost against McCain . . . Obama rocked McCain out of the ball park and he will do the same to what's his face(Romney).

    April 26, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    The Truth wrote:

    ...Well that pretty much sums it up. The clueless will vote for the clueless Obama. The educated and informed will vote for Romney....
    ----------–
    Really. So, why is it that most uneducated states are the traditionally red states?

    Why is it that conservatives in those red states look around and see so many people [fellow conservative people, BTW] lounging off of government entitlements, they blame liberals? Why don't they blame their own Republican state legislatures and governers?

    April 26, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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