Polls released this week showed a remarkable turnaround for independent support for President Barack Obama, The New York Times reports:
“In a Fox News poll conducted Sunday through Tuesday, independent voters favored Mr. Obama by 11 percentage points, an upswing from a four-point advantage Mr. Obama held last month.
A CNN/ORC poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday found 52 percent of independents held an unfavorable view of Mr. Romney, up from 40 percent who viewed him unfavorably in May shortly after he nailed down the Republican primary race.”
But wait a minute! Just a month ago, ABC News and other outlets were reporting the exact opposite: Mitt Romney had a significant advantage among independents nationwide and Barack Obama was struggling to connect. Why the sudden turnaround?
Two potential reasons jump to mind immediately. The first is a simple point almost never mentioned by the mainstream media – independent voters are notoriously hard to find and poll, a subject we’ve covered in great detail in past posts. Given the difficulties in polling independents, it’s hard to take any reported poll results claiming “independent” support without several grains of salt.
The second reason for Obama’s comeback is more speculative – As independent voters have learned more about Mitt Romney, perhaps they haven’t liked what they’ve seen. The CNN poll mentioned above reported that:
“Among independents, the poll indicates Romney’s image has taken a beating,” CNN wrote. “In May, only 40% of independents had an unfavorable view of Romney. Now, 52% of independents have a negative view of him.”
It is true that Romney certainly hasn’t helped his own cause over the last month, and the perception that he’s an “out of touch” candidate has only continued to proliferate after his disastrous, gaffe-filled trip to Europe. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s Bain Capital record and tax returns have remained at the forefront of the political news cycle, rather than issues of substance (i.e. The Economy) pertinent to the 2012 campaign.
While candidate Romney’s recent stumbles have been reflected by this week’s polling, the race for independent voters in 2012 is by no means over. With less than 100 days to go until November 6 and a VP announcement and two “post-convention bounces” looming on the political news cycle horizon, expect only one thing for certain. Romney and Obama’s poll numbers among independent voters will to continue to fluctuate right up until election day, and whomever wins over the majority of independents will be the victor.
In other words, don’t call it a comeback… yet.