Eleanor Clift, writing in The Daily Beast, reports on a focus group of a dozen independent voters. The bottom line? They are souring on Obama – including many of those who voted for him in 2008.

To be specific, Democratic pollster Peter Hart gathered a group (sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center) in Denver last week. Nine of the 12 people voted for Obama four years ago. Today, only three lean toward him. Among the findings: (a) independents “aren’t biting” when it comes to the attacks on Mitt Romney on Bain Capital; (b) to the degree the public believes the economy is improving, the president doesn’t get the credit for it; (c) the president simply is not connecting with the voters he needs to win; and (d) there’s “no sense of leadership” emanating from the president.

“Whether it’s a failure of policy or of communications is debatable,” according to Clift, “but the sense of disillusionment with Obama’s performance is real.”

“He set up expectations that began 46 months ago, and they only grew over time,” according to Hart.

One man, a 31-year-old Web designer and home remodeler who voted for Obama in 2008, said, “The whole platform was hope—I don’t feel any more hope today.”

Pressed by Hart as to which candidate he was leaning toward, this person admitted, “I don’t even know if I’m going to vote this time.” In Hart’s view, the young Web designer should be in Obama’s corner, and the fact that he isn’t is emblematic of the president’s problems.

It’s true enough that Governor Romney has not closed the sale with these voters (which one wouldn’t really expect at this stage). And there’s always the possibility that the president will win back these voters. But for now, there is a pronounced and undeniable erosion in support for the president. The sense one gets is that these independents, who bought into the high expectations Obama created in 2008, have been terribly let down by him. He’s liked but viewed as weak. The candidate who four years ago promised  to slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal the planet is seen, even by his erstwhile supporters, as overmatched by events and at their mercy. The Obama who was sold to us in 2008 was a mirage.

Perhaps Obama really is best equipped to be a community organizer.

If the attacks on Bain Capital aren’t taking root, the meta-narrative that Barack Obama is simply inept and in over his head is. There might be worse impressions for an incumbent president to have – but if so, they don’t immediately come to mind.

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