Independent voters, who will be crucial to President Barack Obama's re-election effort, are abandoning him now, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll. The president’s approval rating among independents dropped to 37 percent in March from 47 percent in February, the survey shows.
Independents provided an important source of support for Republicans in their election victories last year. And Obama has moved his policies toward the center this year in an effort to gain the support of this key constituency.
The president’s overall approval rating dipped to 49 percent in March from 51 percent last month, a move within the margin of error, according to Reuters/Ipsos.
Ipsos pollster Cliff Young says that, although Obama’s popularity is stable for now, he “could go through a rough patch” because of surging gasoline prices, Reuters reports.
Another bad omen for Obama is the poll’s finding that the portion of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track rose to a two-year high of 64 percent in March, up seven points from February.
Young again cites gas prices for the move. "We are moving into a scenario in the near-term that is much more uncertain given the issue of gas prices," he tells Reuters. "Gas prices specifically are things that affect people's pocketbooks and have an immediate impact."
Gasoline prices have soared because of Libya’s turmoil, pushing pump prices up 10 percent over the past two weeks to a national average of $3.52, although pockets of consumers are paying nearly $4. That’s the second biggest two-week jump on record, according to Reuters.
As for the poll, it also shows that Americans prefer spending cuts over tax increases to shrink the deficit by a margin of 59 percent to 30 percent. And they favor defense spending decreases over entitlement reductions.
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