Earlier this week Public Opinion Strategies posited that one potential winning strategy for Republicans next year might be the emphasis that electing more GOP candidates to Congress would help to provide 'checks and balances' on the Democrats in charge of Washington.
We've actually seen some evidence voters might be thinking along that wavelength. For instance on our Illinois poll this week 55% of independents said they approved of Barack Obama's job performance. But when it came to the 2010 Senate race Mark Kirk lead Alexi Giannoulias 36-25 among independents and had a 39-22 edge over Jan Schakowsky. In other words less than half of those independents who said they liked the job the President is doing are committed to voting for someone from his party to assume his old Senate seat next year.
We're finding that to be the case pretty much across the board. We polled 27 hypothetical Senate contests during March and April and found the Republican candidate leading among independent voters in 20 of those cases.
There is certainly an argument to be made that independents may seem more conservative now because their ranks have been flooded with disaffected Republicans who have changed their party identification but not their ideological one. But the disconnect between Obama's approval rating and the support level for Democratic Senate candidates in many of these states is certainly a trend to be watched and could be a major factor in how next year's election shakes out.