Losing Independent Support
Despite the disappointments amongst the base over the war funding vote, it appears that the Democratic leadership has an equally troublesome problem heading into 2008: independent voters have now soured on the leadership as well. With a hotly contested presidential election upon us, one could assume that the Democratic base will turn out in large numbers as long as the nominee doesn’t hurt enthusiasm, which is a big “if”.
Given the role that independent voters played in helping the Democrats gain seats and take a tenuous hold on the leadership in both houses, maintaining such support even in face of lackluster GOP alternatives is imperative should Democrats have any chance of building upon their numbers. But a new Pew poll out last Thursday shows that Democrats have their work cut out for them to keep independent support, pointing to a need for the leadership to change its messaging and focus on a range of issues.
Forty-two percent of independents feel that the Democrats have not gone far enough in challenging Bush on Iraq, a figure virtually unchanged from March. But support amongst independents since last June to bring the troops home as soon as possible has jumped 13 points to 56%. Yet the Democratic leadership’s focus since January on fighting a battle for withdrawal they cannot win with their insufficient numbers has cost them support amongst independents: there has been an 18-point jump from 40% to 58% in the disapproval rating for the Democratic leadership amongst independents.
The Democratic leadership to remind the public every day that there are too few Democrats in Congress to force a change in course for Iraq, and that there needs to be more Democrats elected in 2008 to overcome the GOP occupation of Iraq.