A recent Gallup Poll has revealed that satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States is lower among Americans classifying themselves as Independents compared to Americans overall. As a mere 11% of Americans overall approve of the way things are progressing in the United States (the lowest level since December 2008 and just four points above the all-time low recorded in October 2008), a devastatingly lower amount of Independents, 8%, is satisfied.
Independents’ approval of current conditions is right on par with the way that they feel about Congress. Compared to both Democrats and Republicans, they are the demographic most critical of the legislative branch with, only 9% approving of their current job and an overwhelming 86% disapproving. Democratic voters have the highest approval of the country’s circumstances, 19%, followed by 9% of Republican voters.
When Gallup presented a list of issues to find which ones Americans felt were the most important to them, 76% of Americans overall mentioned an economic issue at the top of their list. Specifically, 31% were concerned about the economy in a general sense, 29% were concerned about unemployment or jobs, and 17% were concerned about the federal budget deficit and federal debt.
In Gallup’s assessment of the data, it noted that either the economy in general terms or unemployment has ranked as the #1 most important problem every month since February 2008. Additionally, the two have ranked as the first or second most important issue since December 2009.
Interestingly enough, the top non-economic problem mentioned by 14% of Americans is dissatisfaction with government and political leaders. This was followed by concerns that included “lack of money,” “healthcare,” “ethical/moral decline,” and “lack of respect for each other.”
The latest Gallup findings come as David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s campaign strategist for his reelection efforts, said that the President’s upcoming job stimulus plan and proposals to curb the national debt are endangered by “pure politics.” Mr. Axelrod was referring to likely partisan resistance to President Obama’s upcoming plan next month to stimulate the U.S. economy. While he may be correct in a sense that party line stances by Washington politicians threaten to derail the President’s plans, it would seem that it’s almost a scapegoat for Mr. Axelrod to label all those who disagree with the administration’s economic policies as simply playing a partisan game.
What makes true political Independents stand out, among politicians and voters, is that they think in terms of achieving results rather than blind adherence to party labels. Ultimately, President Obama will have to prove himself to the rapidly growing electorate of Independent voters. Given that the economy has continued to sputter since his first economic stimulus, he’s set the bar pretty high with his upcoming economic plan.
Since the Independent electorate carried him to victory in 2008, the President will have to answer to this burgeoning demographic by achieving concrete results in his next wave of economic proposals. Whatever political resistance he gets in turn, Independent voters will be the final judges of whether he’s a perpetrator or victim of the partisan game.