Obama Pollster: Republicans Losing Confidence

GOP voter turnout down as Romney's negative ads fall on deaf ears.

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A new strategy memo from President Obama's chief pollster Joel Benenson argues that Republicans are "increasingly dispirited and discouraged" about their crop of presidential candidates.

GOP turnout has been low in recent nominating primaries and caucuses, including those in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota on Tuesday, Benenson says in an analysis e-mailed to reporters and "interested parties."

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GOP turnout dropped 57 percent in Missouri from 2008, declined 21 percent in Minnesota, and decreased 6 percent in Colorado.

Benenson adds that "Republican voters are increasingly dissatisfied with the front-runner, Mitt Romney." The pollster says the former Massachusetts governor's effort to court conservative voters is hurting him with independents. "Romney's approach so far--which is to wield his financial advantage and his super PAC coffers to sully his opponents and their records--is the type of negative strategy that independent voters reject," Benenson argues. Romney dropped 18 points to 24 percent favorability among independent voters between early and late January, Benenson adds, citing research by ABC and the Washington Post. That's when Romney's attacks were intensifying.

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The Benenson memo appears designed in part to increase confidence among Democrats and reduce optimism among Republicans about the 2012 race.

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