Independents defect from Biden, deliver another bad omen for Democrats in November

Recent polls show President Biden is losing the support of independent voters, a trend that could make it more difficult for Democrats to hold onto the majorities in the House and Senate.

Mr. Biden’s support among independent voters has been shrinking for months and an SSRS poll conducted for CNN is the latest measure of his declining popularity among this crucial voting bloc.

Mr. Biden’s approval rating among independents sank to 36%, down from as high as 58% last spring, the Feb. 10 survey found.

His approval rating overall has been declining for weeks, but the loss of independents is particularly dangerous for Democrats who hope to hang onto slim majorities in the House and Senate in November.

Biden’s steep decline among independents goes to the core of his political problem,” Ron Faucheux, a pollster and non-partisan political analyst, told The Washington Times.

The polls show voters, including independents, soured on Mr. Biden because of his handling of the economy, foreign policy and the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic.

Independents powered the 2020 election results, abandoning Mr. Trump, who they backed in 2016, and instead chose Mr. Biden by a 54% to 41% margin, Mr. Faucheux noted.

They’ll play a pivotal role in the upcoming midterms, too.

In at least nine states, registered independents outnumber both Democrats and Republicans. Gallup reported last month that four in ten Americans identified themselves as independents in 2021.

“History tells us that any president’s low numbers can have a negative ripple effect through same-party candidates in midterms,” said Tim Malloy, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac University Poll. “The independents, wield huge influence in turbulent times which we are in now, so laser focus by both parties is on that slice of the electorate.”

Democrats will have to reverse a trend with independents that has only worsened since the summer when Mr. Biden’s poll numbers began to fall following his much-criticized withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll released in late January found that among those who identified as independent, 57% said they would more likely vote for a Republican candidate in the midterm election, compared with 43% who said they would choose a Democrat.

The GOP advantage among independents could become critical in House and Senate races where the Republicans and Democrat electorate is closely divided. 

In Arizona, where Democrat Mark Kelly’s bid to hold onto his Senate seat against a GOP challenger has been rated a “toss up” by the non-partisan Cook Political Report, independents make up nearly 32% of the state’s registered voters, according to the Independent Voter Project.  

By comparison, IVP reported that registered Democrats make up 32.4% and Republicans constitute 34.8% of all registered voters in the state.

Mr. Biden in January told reporters he does not believe poll numbers showing his plummeting approval ratings and fellow Democrats argue the numbers really don’t matter nine months out from the election.

“That’s an eternity in politics,” Democratic strategist Christopher Hahn said in an interview. 

Events between now and the election could push more independents back in Biden’s corner, Mr. Hahn said, especially if they are motivated by a major event, such as the Supreme Court overturning the law legalizing abortion when it rules on the matter later this year.

“Democrats should be concerned,” Mr. Hahn said of the poll numbers. “But now is not the time to panic.”

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