Obama TANKING with Independents, Losing Moderate Voters
AKA OBAMA'S SOUR 'APPLES TO APPLES', PART THREE: INDEPENDENTS AND MODERATES
In the last six weeks, Barack Obama has been losing support in virtually every key demographic category when matched against John McCain, while Hillary Clinton has gained support. Perhaps most disturbing is Obama’s decline among Independent voters: Between late February and mid-April, in 9 key states for Democrats
· Obama lost an average 4.2% of his support among Independents
· While Obama was losing support among Independents to McCain, McCain was also picking up new support from previously undecided Independent voters, resulting in major decreases in Obama’s margins against McCain among Independents.
· In February, Obama led McCain among Independents in 5 of the 9 states, By mid-April, Obama was leading in only one state – by only 2%.
· Clinton has held her own among Independents during this period, and as a result Obama’s relative advantage over Clinton among Independents has been cut by two thirds.
But Independents are not the only category that Obama is doing poorly in. In February, when matched against McCain, Obama was doing better among Moderates and Liberals. In mid-April, Clinton was doing better. And Clinton has increased her relative advantage over Obama among Democrats.
These conclusions are drawn from an “apples to apples” comparison of Survey USA polling done April 11-13 in nine states (California, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, and Wisconsin) with similar polling done in late February as part the SUSA 50 state poll (conducted Feb. 26-28).
This is the third of a multipart series examining the polling data in these states. Part One provided an overview of the polling results, and showed how Clinton was doing better than Obama in 8 of those 9 states. Part Two provided an overview of key demographic categories, and took a close look at male and female voters. Part Three will examine the “Party Identification” and “Ideological” demographic breakdowns, with an emphasis on the “Independent” and “Moderate” subcategories.
INDPENDENT AND MODERATE VOTERS:
Moderate voters make up a much larger percentage (9 state average =39.8%) of the overall electorate than do Independent voters (9 state average = 23.7%). While “Independent” tells you nothing about an individual voter other than their “unaffiliated with either the Democratic or Republican” party” status, “Moderate” tells us what people’s political views are – i.e. Moderates are voters who consider themselves neither “Conservative” nor “Liberal”. In general, “Indepenndent” does not mean “Moderate” – while many Independents are “Moderates”, many are “Conservative” or “Liberal” as well.
Chart C-0 shows the demographic breakdown by party and ideology for each of the 9 states surveyed in April, along with the 9 state average. While “GOP” and “Conservative” percentages are pretty close in most states, “Liberal” is always considerably smaller than “Democratic”, and “Moderate” is always larger than “Independent”.
“Independent” is probably the single most volatile of all the major demographic categories. “Moderate” contains large percentages of people who consider themselves Democrats (and some Republicans as well), and is far less volatile as a result – but because of its size, relatively small changes in the Moderate vote can have a significant impact on overall margins.
In these nine states, Independents make up an average of 23.7% of registered voter. While the Obama campaign has been emphasizing how much better their candidate would do than Clinton among “Independent” (non-party affiliated) voters when matched against McCain, in the past six weeks Clinton’s independent support has increased while Obama’s has been falling.
In these nine states, Obama’s advantage over Clinton in support among Independents was cut by nearly two thirds. In February, Obama was able to attract an average 10.4% more Independent when matched against McCain than Clinton. In April, Obama’s advantage over Clinton had shrunk to 3.8%.
· In 7 out of 9 states, Clinton’s support among Independent voters has increased.
· Clinton saw significant increases in support from Independents in 5 states: California (+9%), Minnesota, (+5%), Missouri (+5%), New Mexico (+6%), and Ohio (+6%).
· Obama’s Independent support increased in only 2 of 9 states (WI, MO). Only in Missouri was the increase over 2% (+10%)
· Clinton lost Independent support in two states, Massachusetts (-9%) and Wisconsin (-3%)
· Obama lost Independent support in 7 of 9 states. In 5 of those states, the loss of support was more than 2% (CA –9%; IA -10%, MA –3%, MN –7%, NM –6%, OH –13%)
· Overall, Clinton’s nine state average gain in support among Independents against McCain was 2.4% (from 37.0% to 39.4%). Obama lost an average 4.2% of his support among Independents (from 47.4% to 43.2%).
While Obama was losing support among Independents to McCain, McCain was also picking up new support from previously undecided Independent voters, resulting in major decreases in Obama’s margins against McCain in this category.
· In February, Obama lead McCain among Independents in 5 of 9 states. He now leads in only 1 state, Ohio, where he leads McCain among Independents by 2%, a 30 point reduction in his Independent margin in that state.
· Obama’s margins against McCain among Independent fell in 6 of the remaining 8 states, usually by very high percentages.
· In four of these states, the loss was so severe it resulted in McCain taking over the lead from Obama among Independents: California (-22 points, from +20% to –2%), Iowa (-22 points, from +14% to –8%), Minnesota (-19 points, from +12% to –7%), and New Mexico (-11 points, from +7% to –4%).
· And, in Massachusetts, Obama’s disadvantage among Independents by -10 points, going from –4% to –14%.
· Obama saw a significant improvement in his margin against McCain among Independents only in Missouri, where he gained 12 points (-12% to 0%).
· Clinton improved her margin among Independents against McCain in 4 states.
· In three states, Clinton’s independent margins increased by more than 3%: California (+10 points, from 0% to +10%), Missouri (+4 points, rfrom 13% to –9%, New Mexico (+12%, from –29% to –17%).
· Clinton lost ground to McCain among Independents in 4 states overall, and in 2 states by more than 3% Massachusetts (–25 points, from +3% to –22%) and Wisconsin (-4 points, from –13% to –17%.
The overall average margin among Independents for Clinton remained unchanged, at –12.7%. At the same time, Obama’s average margin went from +7.0% to –4.4% against McCain. As a result, Obama’s relative margin advantage over Clinton fell by almost 60%, going from 19.8% to 8.3%.
INDEPENDENTS, CROSS-OVERVOTING, AND DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT
While Independents are considered a key demographic, strength among Democrats, and “cross over” voting – Republicans voting for Democrats, are also factors.. Here again, while the news for Clinton is mixed, the news for Obama is pretty bad.
· Only in Iowa did Obama’s (light blue bar) margin among Democrats improve, (+18%) going from 50% to 68%. But his gains’s among Iowa Democrats were offset by losses among Republicans and Independents.
· Obama’s margins among Republicans (pink bar) improve in Minnesota (+3) and Massachusetts (+10), but were offset by losses among Independents and Democrats.
· In 4 of 9 states, Obama’s margin among Democrats decreased by more that 3 points: Massachusetts (-7 points, from +44% to +37%), Minnesota (-6 points, from +70% to +64%), Missouri (-14 points, from +51% to +37%, and New Mexico (-9%, from +44% to +35%).
· Obama’s cross-over appeal is fading as well, as his margins against McCain eroded further in 6 states, IA (-7%), MO (-9%), NM (-17%), OH (-16%), OR (-10%), and WI (-17%).
· Overall, Obama’s margins among Democrats against McCain decreased by an average 2.1%, despite no change in the percentage of “undecided” Democrats, which indicates a net loss of support among Democrats for Obama when he is matched against McCain.
· Obama’s 9 state average margin against McCain among Republican voters fell an additional 7.0%, while undecided Republicans declined by an average of 3.7%, indicating a net loss of support among Republicans for Obama.
· Clinton’s margins improved among Republicans in two state (MA, OR), and decreased further in the other seven, but in only 4 states was the decrease greater than 3% (CA, MO, OH, WI).
· Clinton’s margins among Democrats improved in 4 states, and declined in 4 states.
· Overall, Clinton’s margins against McCain among Democrats was reduced by an average of -1.1%, and among Republicans by –0.2%
Chart C-6 shows how Clinton and Obama did relative to each other against McCain within the “Party” demographics between late February and mid-April in these 9 states. Unlike the previous charts, this data is weighed to show the impact* of each Party on the overall (green bar) outcome.)
· Clinton outperformed Obama among Independents (purple bar) in 6 of 9 states.
· Clinton outperformed Obama among Republicans (pink bar) in 7 of 9 states.
· Clinton outperformed Obama among Democrats (light blue bar) in 5 of 9 states.
· As a result, when matched against McCain, Clinton outperformed Obama overall** (green bar) in 8 or 9 states between late February and mid-April.
The picture is mixed for both Obama and Clinton as as far as Moderates are concerned. Clinton maintained her levels of support among Moderates, but her margin against McCain fell among Moderates as the percentage of undecided Moderates went down. Obama’s overall support among Moderates declined, and his margins among Moderates declined even more than Clintons.
· Clinton lost support among Moderates in 4 states (CA –4%, MA –6%, MN –7%, WI –3%).
· Clinton gained at least 3% more support among Moderates in 3 states (MO +3%, OH +9%, OR +7%).
· Obama gained support among Moderates in three states (IA +4, MO +3, OR +3)
· Obama lost support among Moderates in 6 states (CA –10%, MA –10%, MN –4%, NM –8%, OH –3%, WI –3%)
· Clinton’s nine state average of support from Moderates when matched against McCain remained steady (at 53.4% a +0.1% gain).
· Obama’s nine state average dropped by 2.9 points, going from 55.9% to 52.6%.
In February in these nine states, Moderates supported Obama over McCain more than they did Clinton. Obana’s loss of moderate support means that now, more Moderates support Clinton than Obama when each is matched against McCain.
In terms of margins, both Clinton and Obama lost ground to McCain among moderates between late February and mid-April, but Obama did significantly worse than Clinton.
· McCain now leads Obama among Moderates in 2 states, Obama’s margin dropped 21 points in Massachusetts (from +13% to –8%) and dropped 18 points in New Mexico (from +12% to –6%).
· Obama’s Moderate margins also decreased by 20 points in California (from +21% to +1%), by 11 points in Minnesota (from +29% to +18%), by 8 points in Ohio (from +21% to +13%), and by 10 points in Wisconsin (from +21% to +11%)
· Obama improved his support among moderate by 3% or more in only two states, Iowa (+6 points, from +23% to +29%) and Oregon (+10 points, from +17% to +27%).
· In 4 states, Clinton improver her margin among Moderates against McCain by 3% or more, Missouri (+3 points, from +16% to +19%), New Mexico (+3 points, from +5% to +8*), Ohio (+16 points, from +19% to +35%) and Oregon (+11 points, from +3% to +14%)
· Clinton’s margin among moderates dropped by 3% or more in 4 states: California (–10 points, from +17% to +7), Massachusetts (-17 points, from +24% to +7%), Minnesota (-20 points, from +25%to +5%), and Wisconsin (-6 points, from +17% to +11%).
· Clinton still leads McCain among Moderates by at least 5% in all nine states. Obama leads by 5 points or more in only 6 states.
Clinton 9 state average margin among Moderates against McCain dropped by -2.3% (from +15.2% to +12.9%. Obama’s average dropped by -7.8%, from +20.2% to +12.4%. In February, Obama did better than Clinton against McCain among moderates by 5.0% overall. In April, Clinton is doing slightly better (0.5%) than Obama among Moderates.
MODERATES, CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS
While the moderate demographic is considered the “swing” Ideological category, changes in support also occur among Liberals and Conservatives that can have an impact on elections.
· Clinton’s overall average margins against McCain among Liberals and Conservatives changed even less that her margins among Moderates. Overall, her average margin among Liberals dropped by -0.7 points (from +61.9% to +61.2%), while her average margin among conservatives improved shightly (by +1.2%, from –64.8% to –63.6%).
· Clinton’s margins among Liberals against McCain increased in five states (CA, MA, MN, OH, and WI) and decreased in 4 states (IA, MO, NM, and OR).
· Clinton’s margins among Conservatives also improved in 5 states (IA, MA, MO, NM, and OR), and got worse in 4 states (CA, MN, OH, WI)
· Obama’s average margins among Liberals against McCain decreased by almost as much (-7.7 points, from 64.1% to 56.4%) as his margins decreased among Moderates.
· As a result of these decreases, while Obama was doing better against McCain among Liberals in late February (by 2.2%), Clinton’s average Liberal margin against McCain was, by mid-April, better than Obama’s (by 4.8%).
· Obama’s margins among Liberals against improved in only one state (MA). In California, they were unchanged, in the other seven states, his margins decreased.
· Among Conservatives, Obama’s margins improved in two states (CA, NM), were unchanged in Ohio, and got worse in the six remaining states. Despite that, Obama’s margins among Conservatives are still slightly better (by 1.2 points) than Clinton.
Chart C-12 shows how Clinton and Obama did relative to each other against McCain within the “Ideology” demographics between late February and mid-April in these 9 states. As with Chart C-6, this data is weighed to show the impact* of each Ideology on the overall (green bar) outcome.)
· Clinton outperformed Obama among Moderates (purple bar) in 7 of 9 states.
· Obama outperformed Clinton among Conservatives (pink bar) in 5 of 9 states.
· Clinton outperformed Obama among Liberals (light blue bar) in 8 of 9 states.
On average, Clinton outperformed Obama in all the Ideological categories***, including the crucial “Moderate” demographic.
Obama’s supposed vastly superior appeal for Independents may turn out to be a myth, at least when it comes to a Presidential contest against John McCain. In six weeks, Clinton reduced Obama’s advantage among Independents by two thirds. Clinton’s Independent margins against McCain held firm, as previously undecided Independents split their votes between McCain and Clinton. But when considering an Obama v McCain match-up, previously undecided Independents chose McCain, while some of Obama’s Independent support from February had fallen away by April.
Obama still does better than Clinton among “Conservatives” and Republicans, but as with Independents, Clinton is holding her own in those categories while Obama’s margins deteriorate.
Moreover, in late February Obama’s margins against McCain among both “Moderates” and “Liberals” were better than Clinton’s, by mid-April that situation had been reversed. And Clinton expanded her advantage over Obama among Democrats during the six week period.
All this does not bode well for Obama’s electability, despite Clinton’s high negatives, she outperformed Obama against McCain over a six week period in 9 key states – states that a Democrat could/should win in 2008.
Data tables used for this post can be found at http://www.glcq.com/election08/apples/ap...
* Weighing is the process by which percentages within demographic groups are used to show the impact on overall totals. For instance, in April in California, where Independents made up 18% of voters, Obama received 43% of the Independent vote against McCain. By multiplying Obama’s 43% of Independents by that 18%, you find that Obama’s Independent support constitutes 7.7% of all voters. Rounding errors make these numbers imprecise, but they give a good approximation of how each demographic contributes to the overall totals. All data used for this table can be found at http://www.glcq.com/election08/apples/ap...
** The Party averages are weighed data. Overall, Clinton outperformed Obama among Democrats by 1.0% (0.5% of all voters), among Republicans by 6.8% (1.9% of all voters), and among Independents by 11.4% (1.7% of all voters).
*** The Ideological averages are weighed data. Overall, Clinton outperformed Obama among Liberals by 7.0% (1.3% of all voters), among Conservatives by 3.6% (08% of all voters), and among Independents by 5.4% (2.1% of all voters).