Obama Leads With Independent Voters, Especially Women

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A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows President Obama has a solid lead among independent voters in key swing states over presumptive Republican presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney. He now polling at a 48% to 39% advantage over Gov. Romney.

In January, a same poll found the two were tied. President Obama’s share of the vote has increased 8% among independent voters in crucial states since last year.

The poll gauged independent voter interest in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Each are considered swing states and important for candidates in November.

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Credit: Gallup

President Obama’s new-found lead is even more pronounced when the results are examined by gender. His standing among independent women has dramatically improved in recent months. Combined data at the end of 2011 found President Obama trailing former Gov. Romney by 11 percentage points among independent men and 5 points among independent women. So far in 2012, President Obama has a one point lead among independent men and a 14-point lead among independent women. That’s a 19 point gain against Gov. Romney.

Fellow GOP hopeful Sen. Rick Santorum fares even worst among independent voters in swing states when going against President Obama. The former Senator from Pennsylvania trails the President 53% to 32%. Despite a rhetoric that has largely repelled women outside of the GOP party, Sen. Santorum’s campaign has connected with conservative women voters throughout his campaign. As The New York Times reports, Sen. Santorum “has handily carried the votes of women in primaries that he has won, including those in Mississippi and Alabama. And where he has lost, in Arizona, South Carolina and Illinois, he has enjoyed a higher level of support among women than men.” A March New York Times/CBS News poll found 73% of Republican female voters said Sen. Santorum “understood” them, compared with 52% who said the same about Gov. Romney.

Independent women apparently see things a bit different. They’re propelling a trend likely to be bolstered in the general election in November.

In 2008, President Obama won 56% of the female vote compared to Sen. John McCain with 43%, and among male voters President Obama won 49% versus Sen. McCain’s 48%, for a seven-point gender gap. For the 2012 election match-up, polls show those numbers could be more pronounced. A recent study from the Pew Research Center on the gender gap in politics shows Democratic President Obama has a 20-point national advantage with women. Their research finds, however, that women have voted for and/or identified with Democrats by such a margin for over 30 years.

What do you think is causing independent voters in these polls to support President Obama? Why are independent women voters passing on Gov. Romney? How can Republicans, or other parties, appeal to this demographic?