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Pew poll reveals Independents lack confidence in President Obama's handling of U.S. economy

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

As congressional leaders cut an 11th hour bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown last week, recent figures from the Pew Center for the People and Press show that President Obama suffers a lack of support from independents regarding the resuscitation of the U.S. economy.

In what may have 2012 implications, the Pew Study indicates that independents, by a 47% to 28% margin, believe that the GOP can better manage the federal government than Democrats (despite the fact that 49% of independents believe that the Democratic Party is better on showing concern for "average people" and in working with the opposite party).  Currently, 48% of independents disapprove of President Obama's current job performance compared to 42% who approve.

On the issue of handling the deficit, however, more independents (65%) are united in disapproving the President's performance.  Only 26% of independent voters approve of the president's attempt to deal with the deficit. What's interesting to note in the Pew Study is that even Democratic-leaning independents, a good number of which would probably reside in California according to recent figures, are also having mixed feelings about the President on this issue. The 48% who approve narrowly edge out the 43% of Democratic-leaning independents who disapprove. Overall, 45% of independents believe that the GOP can better trim the deficit versus 29% who don't.

Another interesting aspect of the Pew Study is that independents are more on par in agreeing with Republicans in having a gloomy view that the economy is poor. Up from 43% in February, 57% of the independent demographic believe that current economic conditions are poor. A similar trend exists among Republicans, with 59% sharing a similar sentiment. Meanwhile, not as many Democrats share the view that the economy offers a gloomy outlook. Although more Democrats believe that economic conditions are poor compared to February's numbers, the Pew Study demonstrates that this change is smaller than their Republican and independent counterparts (41% poor now, up from 36% in February). 

Similarly, differing from Democrats, Republicans and independents share the view that economic recovery will take longer. The study says that 59% of independents and 63% of Republicans believe this to be the case. Meanwhile, 41% of Democrats share this view. What's common in this area of concern is that, unlike the other questions regarding the economy, this query saw a significant jump from all three groups. In February, 44% of independents, 49% of Republicans, and 32% of Democrats shared this view.

Where independents break from Republicans is in the outlook of family finances. While 36% of Republicans currently expect things to get worse in this area, the Pew Study noted that there was no significant change among independents when presented with this issue. 48% of Republicans and 45% of independents do, however, say that their household finances are affected by the budget deficit.

Here in California, where independents are outgrowing Republicans among Latinos, President Obama is facing a lower approval rating than he has enjoyed in the state in times past. The Los Angeles Times notes that California has been a reliably Democratic state in presidential politics since 1992; however, his approval rating in the state has fallen by 13 points to 52% from 65% within the last year.  

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