It’s been widely reported that Obama’s political team believes that the best way to win back the all-important independent vote is to reach grand compromises with Republicans. Hence Obama’s much-discussed “adult in the room” strategy.
But what if crucial independent voters actually want Obama to be more confrontational with Republicans, and don’t see compromise as a virtue in and of itself?
That’s the conclusion suggested by the new Pew poll.
First, the key topline finding. Among overall Americans, there’s been a rise in the number who want Obama to challenge Republicans more aggressively:
A 37% plurality now contends that Obama should challenge the Republicans in Congress more often; 25% say Obama should go along with GOP leaders more frequently, while about the same percentage (26%) say he is handling the situation about right. In April, fewer (27%) said Obama should challenge GOP congressional leaders more often.
Jonathan Chait and Steve Benen both have good posts up noting that it’s striking that a plurality of overall Americans wants Obama to fight the GOP harder, given that Americans always are said to want compromise — raising the stakes considerably for the White House’s planned jobs offensive this fall.
But I think an equally interesting finding concerns what independents think on this question.
The poll finds that there's been a six point rise, up to a plurality of 36 percent, among overall independents who want to see Obama stand up to the GOP. Only 21 percent of indys say he should go along with Republicans more often, and 27 percent say he has the balance right.
But more crucially, the poll breaks down Dem-leaning and GOP-leaning independents — and it finds that 51 percent of Dem-leaning independents want him to more aggressively confront the GOP.
Dem-leaning independents are the ones it’s crucial Obama not lose. As Alan Abramowitz noted the other day, there’s a myth out there that holds that independents are a bloc of free-floating, wholly independent voters. Rther, they mostly lean towards one party or the other.
And the Dem-leaning independents want Obama to fight the GOP harder, rather than be too compromising with Republicans. That’s the way to hang on to them.