By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Independent voters, who have held the balance of power in recent elections, appear to be shifting to the Republican side, less than a year after they put Barack Obama in the White House. In different GOP polls released over the past two weeks, independents have shown irritation at the administration's spending policies. A recent Republican National Committee poll for GOP leadership and a Resurgent Republic survey released this week find that independents are angry at Democratic leaders and are sympathetic with the tea party tax protesters.
In Resurgent Republic's new survey, independents voiced fears of tax hikes to pay for the administration's policies. For that survey, the group teamed with five GOP polling firms and in August went to five cities—Columbus, Ohio; Las Vegas; Virginia Beach, Va.; Orlando; and Billings, Mont.—to query independents who voted for Obama. The poll was further broken down by those Obama independents who are undecided on the 2010 congressional generic ballot. Resurgent pollster Whit Ayres said that his group found that independents support Obama personally but are worried that his policies will strangle the country with debt, reducing prosperity and opportunity for future generations. Specifically, the independents voiced anger at the direction of the Democratic congressional leadership and were worried about the federal debt. They also believed that they would get hit with tax increases, see cuts in Medicare, or experience inflation as a result. They also voiced worries about China and the nation's debt to that nation. Ayres suggested that if the trend continues, House Republicans could see a significant pickup in seats in the midterm elections next year. He cited an average of recent polls that found Republicans slightly ahead of Democrats on the generic election ballot, something he said the GOP hasn't seen since the 1994 Republican upset. "Republicans could have a very good year," he said.
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