A new analysis from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that independents are leaning more conservative, which at first glance doesn’t look like good news for Democrats — but a close examination shows that the trends also don’t contain too much reason for Republican optimism, either.
“Part of that has to do with the decreasing number of Americans identifying as Republicans in recent years,” writes PPP communications director Tom Jensen. “While they’re eschewing the party’s label, they’re still conservative and more often than not voting for the party’s candidates.”
So to some degree, this conservative lean from the independent group comes from the continuing shrinkage in Republicans — a shift in demographics that at the end of the day wouldn’t actually have too much of a real effect on voting patterns.
Still, Jensen sees some potential for the GOP here, comparing his figures to Democratic performance among independents in 2008, which was significantly stronger than the current state of things: “This early success the GOP is having with them looking toward 2012 does seem to indicate a certain level of support for more divided government moving forward, as well as some dissatisfaction with the President and Democrats in Congress.”