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Democrats cheered new polling released Tuesday that showed independents appear to have swung dramatically in their favor since flocking to the GOP in last November's midterms.
The survey, conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, found self-identified independents would vote for a generic Democratic House candidate over a Republican by 42 percent to 33 percent. That’s a 28-point reversal from the midterm elections, according to PPP.
The survey also found 46 percent of respondents said they would vote Democratic, compared to 41 percent who would favor a Republican, if Congressional elections were held today.
“These poll numbers also point to the reality that Republicans taking control of the House may have been one of the best things that could possibly have happened for Obama's re-election prospects,” PPP pollster Tom Jensen wrote. “One thing is very much for certain — it's not 2010 anymore.”
The results fueled Democrats' hopes of reclaiming control of the House in 2012. But while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee widely distributed the polling to reporters Tuesday, Republicans often dismiss PPP results as being the biased work of a polling firm known to favor Democrats.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Joanna Burgos offered this reaction: "Nothing will motivate Americans more than the thought of Nancy Pelosi in the Speaker's chair again pushing through her job-destroying, debt-inducing policies.”
The polling results may be too generalized to suggest massive swings in specific districts across the nation, the type of movement required to allow Democrats to pick up 25 seats needed to regain the House majority in 2012. Redistricting, which is just now getting under way, will also have a major bearing on how many seats are ultimately in play next year.
There are 435 House districts in the United States, and PPP surveyed just 532 registered voters. The survey was taken from April 7-10 and had a 4.3-point margin of error. But even with its political leanings and small sample, the polling firm was rated to among the most accurate during the 2010 midterms.
Other poll highlights include the following:
• 48 percent of respondents trust President Barack Obama to lead the country in the right direction, compared to 42 percent who favored Congressional Republicans.
• 48 percent described the GOP as extremist, while 39 percent said the same about the Democratic Party.
• Most Americans believe Members of Congress are overpaid: 41 percent said the salary should be between $50,000 and $100,000, and 21 percent said it should be less than $50,000. Rank-and-file Members actually make $174,000 each year.