Many of us argued that the most important political fact of the past two years has been the massive defections among independent voters from President Obama and his party. This judgment was confirmed by a new poll from Resurgent Republic. According to a memorandum by Ed Gillespie, Whit Ayres, and Leslie Sanchez:
The 2010 mid-term election was a stunning rebuke to the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress. Much of that rebuke was driven by Independents, who comprised 28 percent of the electorate and supported Republican congressional candidates by the overwhelming margin of 56 to 38 percent. That represents a dramatic 36-point turnaround from the last mid-term election in 2006, when Independents supported Democratic congressional candidates by 57 to 39 percent. Given that an equal percentage of Democrats and Republicans voted in 2010 (36 percent), these Independent voters clearly played a decisive role in the Republican gains.
They go on to say:
Our 2010 post-election survey, conducted jointly with Democracy Corps, demonstrates clearly how Independent voters are now far closer to Republicans than Democrats on their outlook on the direction of the country, their attitudes about its political leadership, and their policy preferences.
The internal numbers in this poll are simply devastating for Democrats. And the central political challenge for the GOP in the next two years is whether it can maintain, and perhaps even deepen, its support among independents. For now, though, the turnabout has been stunning.