Independents Prefer Obama Over McCain – But Not By Much

Posted May 14, 2008 at 2:50pm

A new Gallup poll gives Barack Obama a slight, statistically insignificant edge over John McCain among independent voters, 44 to 42 percent in a general election matchup. The daily tracking poll, taken May 5-11, has seesawed between the two candidates since March. It has a margin of error of +/- 2 percent.

McCain is significantly more popular than Hillary Rodham Clinton among independents, 46 to 41 percent.

In today’s Quinnipiac Poll, Obama fared much better among independents, besting McCain 48 to 37 percent.

Gallup cautions against over-interpreting the impact of independents’ preferences:
“Independents are usually one of the most closely watched swing voter groups each presidential election. However, contrary to expectations, they are not always decisive, in part because turnout among independents is usually lower than it is among those with a political party affiliation.”

The pollsters go on to note that George W. Bush in 2004, Al Gore in 2000, Jimmy Carter in 1976, and John F. Kennedy in 1960 all won the popular vote “despite losing among independents.”