Major Republican group sees weak economy key to attracting independent voters
April 26th, 2012
01:25 PM ET
3 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. B

    Most of what Obama has not been able to accomplish is the Total Obstructionism by McConnel and Co. determined to undermine and obstruct Every single piece of legislation put forth by Obama.

    Most Americans now understand the -Cynical Determination- of the Republicans to deny Any Gains by this President to move things forward!

    They will pay a huge Political price for their destructive filibustering ways this Fall.

    We clearly understand their intent know.

    April 26, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. Four and The Door

    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.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    The Romney Administration will put in a 20% tax decrease for every working American. How can he do that? By actually managing the federal government based on our existing economy, not the limits of the debt debt ceiling. I am sure Independent voters will welcome someone actually managing what is going on in Washington instead of just throwing $billions at every political opportunity that pops up.

    Romney 2012

    April 26, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. ST

    These republicans are so funny. They take independents as if they are living in a different country (not aware what has been happening), come at election time to choose which side to support!

    April 26, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  4. MTATL67

    The GOP may not have burned all their bridge to independent voters but there sure is a lot of smoke.

    April 26, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. CaliforniaBC

    And how are they going to play this strategy out given the going improvements in the economy. Virtually all the swing states have seen significant drops in their unemployment rates and strengthening economies.

    April 26, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Palin Power

    There is only one person who can make the economy stronger and more robust, Sarah Palin. We need her as our next President so she can completely fix our country and implement Palinomics.

    April 26, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. mms55

    like romney said we are not stupid.anyone who is honest about what has gone on in washington knows that the republicans have done nothing to help americans with jobs.they have obstructed any attempts to inprove the plight of the people who are out of work.your right gop we are not stupid.

    April 26, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that the Republicans seem to think that big business will be able to get everything better as long as they don't have to pay taxes or deal with regulations that protect the environment and workers. The way that I see it is that isn't the case because I don't see enough jobs created here in the US by these major companies.

    April 26, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. BLKMANinAmerica

    the repuks HOPE and pray that working America forgets the HOT-MESS they put this country and the World thru in 2008. NOT, WE will never forget nor should we "forgive".

    April 26, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Marcus

    It's like somebody shouting 'Fire!!!!' at the top of his/her lungs...
    when the whole town's firefighters corporation are at the scene doing their best to put down the fire...
    Except for a few lazybones that don't want to follow the Comissioner's orders that is.

    April 26, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. T'sah from Virginia

    ►Major Republican group sees weak economy key to attracting independent voters◄
    But isn't the economy getting BETTER from one that was in the dumps – what's up with these jokers
    The American people are NOT "stupid" – Come on now – We all know better than that
    We know damn well the Republicans took us off-track and President Obama is putting us back!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    April 26, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Obama better to work quick on finding how he can buy the votes of independents like he has everybody else. Surely they must want something that Obama can give them at the tax payers expense???

    April 26, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Four and The Door wrote:

    The Romney Administration will put in a 20% tax decrease for every working American. How can he do that? By actually managing the federal government based on our existing economy, not the limits of the debt debt ceiling.
    -----------------------–
    How can he do that? Where do you get that stuff? From Romney's stump speeches? Not even Mitt Romney can or is willing to tell us how he will trim the $5 trillion needed to bring the annual budget bank into the "current balance" of where it is today, which ain't saying much. Romney's plan would add to the deficit, and then turn around and blame Democrats for creating the deficit.

    It would only be fair to the American people if Mitt Romney actually told us how he would realize this "miracle gro tax cut" economy of his. Plus, it would be nice if he got ready to answer the following debate question. "How will your tax reforms affect you personally?" It's coming. I guarantee it.

    April 26, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Marcus

    Four and The Door – Please name ONE piece of legislation proposed by a (R) and signed into law by the current POTUS that has anything to do with the (slow) recovery of the economy.
    Only laws proposed by (R), without a (D) on it at its inception.

    April 26, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Four and The Door

    If the economy is the issue on voters minds when they step up the the ballot in November, Romney wins. And regardless how much money the Obama/ Biden campaign throws at trying to distract, attack and invent other issues, Democrats will not be able to avoid their poor performance on the economy. Voters want results, not infomercials.

    April 26, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Stop the Charade

    Unfortuneately for the RNC and Herr Rove and his ilk, this happy talk is pure fantasy because it ignores the fact that independent voters tend to read about the issues and know what is going on in Washington, so there is little chance that they will vote for the Grand Obstructionist Party in November.

    April 26, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. The REAL Truth.. (not the imposter)

    @Four – "The Romney Administration will put in a 20% tax decrease for every working American. How can he do that? By actually managing the federal government based on our existing economy, not the limits of the debt debt ceiling. I am sure Independent voters will welcome someone actually managing what is going on in Washington instead of just throwing $billions at every political opportunity that pops up."
    ------------------------------
    And how does the wonderful GOP plan to pay for that 20% tax decrease for everyone? Where's the revenue coming from Four? Oh yeah.. its that little $1.3T DEFICIT that the Ryan plan will cause in the first year that is going to pay for it. What is that but throwing BILLIONS at an unrealistic goal because your sheeple are too stoopid to connect with anything but the Tax Decrease. Oh.. and lets not forget that the proposed decrease will allow Robmey and the rest of the 1% whose nominal tax rate is less than 20% to actually PAY NO TAX AT ALL! This is fiscal responsibility ????

    April 26, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Skeptic

    I may be an independent voter and would happy to see the economy fixed, but the intrusion of the RNC into peoples personal lives and rights (abortion, same sex marriage) will never get my vote. Cant vote for hypocrites who emphasize "rights", but only if those "rights" fall in line within certain beliefs.

    April 26, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Google "if you want America to fail" and get an education and something to think about.

    April 26, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Brian, San Diego

    "The more facts they know, the less likely they are to be for Obama"

    Too bad these guys consider "Fox" to be equivalent to "facts". Those of us who understand that distinction know that the more facts people know, the less likely they are to be for Republicans.

    April 26, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. John, PA

    The GOP will clean up with all voters, Obama will try to make the election about character and being likeable rather than being a referendum on the Obama record of FAILURE.

    Jobless claims revised just this week; the highest since early January, (Labor Department).
    unemployment has increased by 50 % since 2007, real unemployment hovers at 18% to 19% , when you include the 87 million people the Obama administration dropped from the labor force...

    April 26, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    "bain-capital".....says all.

    April 26, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. 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 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. curious

    It seems that the 8% unemployment rate in red states are the only issue the republicans have. American business' are doing just great and are recording record profits.

    April 26, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Independent Voters

    The republica/teaparty are crazy..why they are spreading false lies like Romney the economy is picking back up under President Obama. Bush made more jobs leave under his presidency.

    President Obama will make sure you return 4 more years.

    April 26, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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