In the last month PPP has polled on 16 different actual or potential 2009 or 2010 contests for Governor and Senator around the country, and in 13 of those independent voters have favored the Republican candidate.
Part of that has to do with the decreasing number of Americans identifying as Republicans in recent years. While they're eschewing the party's label, they're still conservative and more often than not voting for the party's candidates. An analysis we did last week found more than three times as many conservatives as liberals in the independent ranks nationally, and that in some of the states we've polled recently that gap is as wide as 7:1.
Nevertheless Democrats last year, including President Obama, did quite well with independents. 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.
Here are the numbers among independents for races we've polled recently:
Most immediately Bob McDonnell has a 54-33 lead over Creigh Deeds in Virginia and Chris Christie has a 60-26 one over Jon Corzine in New Jersey.
On our Louisiana poll today David Vitter led a generic Democrat 45-27 and Charlie Melancon 43-25.
On the North Carolina poll we released last week Richard Burr had a 38-28 lead with independents on the generic ballot, a 39-21 one over Cal Cunningham, and a 39-22 one over Kenneth Lewis.
Norm Coleman trailed two out of three potential Democratic opponents we pitted him against for Governor overall, but he still led all three with indies. It was 39-31 over Mark Dayton, 36-34 over RT Rybak, and 43-24 over Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
In Ohio Ted Strickland narrowly led John Kasich overall, but was down 54-33 with independents.
In Wisconsin Jim Doyle had a 55-30 deficit against Scott Walker and a 48-30 one against Mark Neumann.
The only Democrats breaking the trend were Jennifer Brunner and Lee Fisher in the Ohio Senate race, holding leads of nine and one points respectively, and Russ Feingold with a 45-38 lead over Paul Ryan.