Independents swing to McCain

Mike Allen:

Independent voters — the largest and fastest-growing segment of the American electorate — were always going to determine the winner of this election.

And in contrast to past contests like 2004, where independents viewed the choice between President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry as a vote for the candidate they disliked least, independents had a dream campaign in ‘08: two compelling nominees who ran against the polarizing establishments of their own parties with explicitly post-partisan appeals. It was a year in which Karl Rove’s play-to-the-base politics seemed to be on the ash heap of history.

In the wake of Sarah Palin, John McCain has opened up a 15-point lead among independents, according to a new Gallup Poll — and Barack Obama has a real problem.

Since the GOP convention and his selection of the Alaska governor as his running mate, McCain has changed a months-long tie among independents into a 52 to 37 percent advantage. Support for McCain among self-described "conservative Democrats" has jumped 10 points, to 25 percent, signaling the shift among swing voters to McCain.

The candidate’s surge tracks the script the campaign had written for the party convention. Joe Lieberman’s sleepy but substantively centrist speech was the preamble to McCain reframing the Republican Party around national security, fiscal conservatism and corruption reform. The result: he elevation of the independent maverick.

...
This is more good news for McCain, but you would think it would result in a larger lead, which is now hovering around three to four points. I think the problem is that the polls are still reflecting part identification numbers that are out of sync with the current alignment which has been moving toward the GOP ever since the convention. That is why the likely voter totals give McCain a larger lead.

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