The shift on the Catholic-contraception issue appears modest enough to cause few ripples. But Obama infuriated some liberal groups by dropping plans to tighten ozone restrictions and to have a government-run health insurance provider.
Erickson said Obama can ill afford to appease liberals with left-leaning moves that would alienate independents. As public disenchantment with Congress has soared in the past few years, she said, the ranks of independents have swelled at the Democratic and Republican parties' expense.
"This year is going to have the highest independent turnout in modern political history," Erickson said.
The GOP primary contest shows no sign of wrapping up soon.
The longer it goes on, the more time Obama has to make overtures to independents who, as Erickson put it, "will be the kingmakers in this election."
EDITOR'S NOTE — Charles Babington covers politics and the presidential campaign for The Associated Press.
An AP News Analysis
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