Independent Voters a Key Predictor of 2010 Election Results
As the 2010 election year nears, some of the outcome can predicted by examining the views of independent voters.
Independent voters, those who decline to state a party preference are the only growing bloc of voters in California, now representing 20 percent of the state’s 15.7 million registered voters.
Their support is numerically necessary to elect a Republican governor, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election demonstrated and, more importantly, their positions on issues and candidates tend to be a forecast of where moderate Democrats and Republicans eventually land.
In a poll released this December by the Public Policy Institute of California, “Californians & their Government,” independents tend to be slightly less pessimistic about what the next year will hold economically.
While 63 percent say think bad financial times will occur in 2010, 32 percent say good times versus 26 percent for Democrats and 18 percent for Republicans.
On issues that may appear on the 2010, a majority of independents, not surprisingly, said it was important to allow voters to select any candidate regardless of party in the primary.
Forty-seven percent of Democrats and Republicans said an open primary was important.
Only 31 percent of likely independent voters said legalizing marijuana was important. Even fewer – 18 percent favored calling a constitutional convention.
As to lowering the vote threshold for approving a budget from two-thirds, independents were only slightly higher than Republicans – 54 percent to 52 percent in assessing the issue’s importance.
Only 40 percent thought allowing same sex couples to marry was important versus 52 percent for likely Democratic and Republican voters. However, 56 percent of voters aged 18 to 34, which represent a large part of the decline-to-state population, said the issue was important.
Potentially beneficial to GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, a former eBay executive, 50 percent of independents say experience running a business is the most important qualifier for a governor. Thirty-two percent say experience in elected office is most important, versus, for example, 60 percent of Democrats.
However, 50 percent of independent voters said they viewed candidates in a better light that used contributions from supporters to pay for their campaigns versus 29 percent who used their own money.
Of the potential gubernatorial candidates, independents broke about evenly on Attorney General Brown: 34 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable.
Baggage from Brown’s two-terms as governor from 1974 through 1982 may not be an issue in next year’s campaign: 69 percent of likely voters under the age of 35 cannot give an opinion of him.
Sixty-three percent of independents said they didn’t know enough about former congressman Tom Campbell to form an opinion. Those who didn’t enough to form an opinion of Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner stood at 56 percent and Meg Whitman, 44 percent.
Perhaps because there is no independent candidate for governor, only 29 percent of decline-to-state voters express satisfaction with the choices for candidates in next year’s June primary.
As for Schwarzenegger, who independents re-elected three years ago, 54 percent now disapprove of his performance. Twenty-nine percent approve.
Approval by the governor’s own party is not much better: 35 percent of Republicans approve of his performance while 50 percent don’t.
The state Legislature, as often happens, finds its approval ratings in the teens among all voters.
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