We have numbers on the Senate and House races in Alaska coming out Monday and one thing in them really struck me. Lisa Murkowski's approval rating with independents is a negative 43/44 spread. Yet she still leads a generic Democratic opponent by 15 points, 42-27.
As odd as that may seem it's not an isolated development in our polling. In November we found Roy Blunt's favorability with independents at a pitiful 23/44 and Robin Carnahan's at a still bad but much better 33/40. Despite that gap Blunt still led Carnahan 44-32 in the poll.
Our North Carolina Senate poll last month had Richard Burr's approval with independents at a negative 31/38. But he still led a generic Democrat 40-36 and held 7-9 point advantages against the three actual Democratic candidates with that group.
This is looking well into the future but when we polled John Ensign a couple weeks ago his approval with independents was 37/43 but that didn't stop him from having leads of 13-34 points against the three Democrats we tested as hypothetical 2012 opponents.
We saw in Massachusetts that independent voters are willing to go for a Republican even if they don't like the party, but in that instance they actually liked Scott Brown. What may be more disturbing for Democrats is the Republican officials who independents personally dislike, but will still support because they like the Democratic Party even less. It's something the party will have to find a way to overcome to be successful this year.