The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll hints that the 2008 presidential election could mark the year independents reclaim their status as a swing group. After Karl Rove's 2004 strategy attempted to circumvent independents by focusing on the GOP base, independents appear to be back in the driver's seat.
In this poll, independents split evenly between Barack Obama (44 percent) and John McCain (43 percent).
A closer look at their views on the candidates themselves and key issues and attributes hints that McCain faces a more uphill battle to convince independents that he is the better candidate to handle many top domestic issues or reflect their personal values. But even with these obstacles, McCain is viewed positively and runs about evenly with Barack Obama in a general election match-up.
Here are more crosstabs from the latest poll.
Q. If the 2008 presidential election were being held today and the candidates were (Barack Obama, the Democrat) and (John McCain, the Republican), for whom would you vote?
NET LEANED VOTE
Obama McCain All adults 48 42 Independents 44 43
The following results are only among political independents:
Q. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of (NAME)?
Obama McCain Favorable NET 63 57 Strong fav. 29 18 Somewhat fav. 34 39 Unfavorable NET 32 38 Somewhat unfav. 13 21 Strong unfav. 19 17
Q. Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust more to handle [ITEM] - (Obama) or (McCain)?
Obama McCain Issues of special concern to women 56 25 Global warming and other environmental issues 50 29 Health care 50 32 Energy policy 48 33 Gasoline prices 45 32 The economy 49 37 Appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court 45 39 Taxes 43 41 The war in Iraq 43 45 International affairs 42 45 The U.S. campaign against terrorism 33 55
Q. Regardless of who you may support, who do you think [ITEM] - (Obama) or (McCain)?
Obama McCain Would do more to bring needed change to Washington 64 22 Better understands the problems of people like you 50 32 Would do more to stand up to lobbyists and special interest groups 49 35 Better represents your own personal values 49 36 Is the stronger leader 44 45
Q. Which of these is more important to you in a candidate for president: (strength and experience) or (a new direction and new ideas)?
Strength and experience 39 New direction and new ideas 51