Poll: Independents Want Government To Do More

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Independents, Polls

Charlie Cook runs the numbers and sees the tide turning against the “less government” crowd.

From National Journal:

Why is this important? Because independent voters are the ones who matter most in American politics. More than 90 percent of Democratic voters can be expected to vote Democratic, just as more than 90 percent of Republicans reliably vote Republican. In a bad year for Republicans, such as 2006, voters who call themselves Republican voted for GOP candidates over Democratic candidates by 91 percent to 8 percent. Last year, a great one for the GOP, Republican voters stuck with the party by 95 percent to 4 percent. In 2006, a great year for Democrats, party members voters cast their ballots for Democrats by 93 percent to 7 percent; last year, the numbers were 92 percent to 7 percent.

It’s not about defections, and it isn’t so much about turnout either. In 2006, 38 percent of all voters called themselves Democrats and 36 percent called themselves Republicans. In 2010, it was 36 percent for each party. The big difference was that independents in 2006 swung from backing Democrats over Republicans (by 57 percent to 39 percent), to preferring Republicans last November (by 56 percent to 38 percent). The swing in both elections was 18 points.

All the usual caveats apply…it’s just one poll…blah blah blah, but looks like this has been a pretty decent indicator as to how independents vote in the past couple elections and there’s nothing to suggest anything is changing now.

More as it develops…


This entry was posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011 and is filed under Independents, Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “Poll: Independents Want Government To Do More”

  1. Centerist Cynic Says:

    If only they would have asked if people were ready to pay for the Government doing more then the poll would be truly useful.

  2. Solomon Kleinsmith Says:

    This isn’t really big news… it just follows upon how people react to things that are going on in the world. When threatened, people fall back on those they feel can protect them, and when things are going better, people want to be less hindered.

    Solomon Kleinsmith
    Rise of the Center

  3. superdestroyer Says:

    If income taxes were doubled, the government would still be running a budget deficit of over $500 billion.

    What independents really want is for the government to spend more money on them while spending less on others and while others pay higher taxes.

    The Democrats have doubled down on the tax the rich idea yet there is just not enough money there for fund all of the desired programs just like the Republicans do not want to make enough cuts to stop having deficits

    People are selfish and short sighted. It is the job of political leaders to be rational. Giving in to irrational, short-sighted voters to meet unrealisitic expectations is foolish.

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    Not a very specific question, so it’s hard to nail down the sentiment that is being expressed. How do we think people would respond if asked

    Should we be able to have our cake and eat it too?

    People would think, “hmm, what a great idea. I’m for that!”

    So the right question, the unasked question, is this:

    Should the government do more with less? Or are you in favor of paying higher taxes so that the government will have more resources to do more things?

    An even better place to start would be here:inform folks what their increased share of taxes paid would need to be just to re-balance the budget.

    You tax bill for next year will increase $2386.06 to cover the 2011 budget deficit. In addition to this amount, how much more are you willing to pay so that the government can do more to solve people’s problems?

    Ask questions like these, and maybe we’ll learn something real, and be able to make, you know, actual progress.

  5. mw Says:

    While granting KK’s issue with the question itself, it is nevertheless the same question that has been asked over five years and a number of cycles. The point is that we are getting different answers from Indies now to the same question that we were getting since Obama took office. Since it is such a dramatic shift, I think it behooves us to see another iteration and whether it is a blip or a trend.

    I have another thought about how Indies are responding to this question. It is a question that so closely completely (some might say perfectly) aligns with the Democrat vs. Republican public perspective (Democrats always think government needs to do more, Republicans always thing government needs to do less), that I suspect Indies answer this question as if it is a proxy for “Do you think we nee more Democrats in office? Do you think we need more Republicans in office?

    Otherwise, why would Independents say we need Government to do less almost from the moment Obama took office and had not yet done anything? Similarly why would that sentiment suddenly shift now to we need government to do more, when absolutely nothing has yet been done to restrain the massive increases in government entitlements and regulation over the last two years (when Indies were saying “we need gov to do less.). The results make no sense based on a literal interpretation of the question.

    I think Indies just take this question as an opportunity to indicate whether they are more likely to vote Dem or Rep. That is the takeaway from this survey – they are indicating a readiness to lean back to Dems in the next cycle.

  6. bubbaquimby Says:

    “I think Indies just take this question as an opportunity to indicate whether they are more likely to vote Dem or Rep. That is the takeaway from this survey – they are indicating a readiness to lean back to Dems in the next cycle.”

    I think that’s more correct. Which means my dream of term limits is almost happening. We are now going to have defacto term limits in this country. We saw a bunch of old timers retire in 2010 and we are already seeing announcements of retirees for 2012.

    Now the question will be is that good? Being a limited gov’t type, I say yes. But even if it’s expanded, I would rather have politicians fight for things they want, they things that will get them elected.

  7. kranky kritter Says:

    Yeah, I think it’s a pretty sensible takeaway as well. That’s exactly how you want to interpret these sorts of (longitudinal, right?) polls: by examining the trend over time.

    Notice that quick cycling, What does it portend? Are independents switching their message as soon as congress shifts hands, in some attempt to educate new congresscritters. That’s what I am wondering, what else is there to this? Is it really as simple as a desire to rubber stamp democrats out of fear of what Republicans are wreaking now?

    I for one do not think so. I really think it’s a gross and growing dissatisfaction with partisan rhetoric and the accompanying inevitable overstepping that immediately follows. I am looking very closely for the emergence of a small handful of experienced politicians and accomplished citizens who will see prominent public office as true independents. They’ll be shopping next-generation legitimate problem solving over pandering and overpromising followed by symbolic tweaking and under-delivering on the big issues. And I’ll be buying.

  8. daniel noe Says:

    MW has a good theory. I was wondering what would cause the sudden reversal at the end like that, since I wasn’t aware of anything big changing.

    Kleinsmith makes an interesting point, but I find I am often the opposite. When things are going well, I let things slide, but when things are going poorly I am angry over every little bit of interference. This may mean that when times are tough, we become more polarized.

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