Tuesday, October 24, 2006

U.S. Republicans losing crucial swing voters: poll

U.S. Republicans losing crucial swing voters: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Independent voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats to take over the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 7 election and back them on major issues, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said on Monday.

The independents surveyed said they plan to support Democratic congressional candidates over Republicans by a roughly 2-to-1 margin -- 59 percent to 31 percent -- the largest gap in the poll this year, The Washington Post said.

Forty-five percent said it would be good if Democrats recaptured the House majority, 10 percent said it would not and the rest said it would not matter, the newspaper reported.

With Republicans fighting to retain control of the U.S. Congress, the choice of independents may be pivotal because most Democratic and Republican voters said they plan to support their party's candidates, the newspaper said.

The growing independent support for Democratic House candidates found in the poll is a significant shift since the 2004 election, when the Democrats held only a narrow advantage, the Post said.

Twenty-seven percent of those polled said the single most important issue in their vote for Congress this year is the war in Iraq, compared to 14 percent who said terrorism ranked first.

Independents said they strongly trust Democrats on most major issues by margins ranging from 14 percentage points on terrorism to 23 percentage points on Iraq and North Korea, the Post said.

The Post said independent voters favoring Democrats appeared to be motivated by dissatisfaction with Republicans rather than enthusiasm for the other party.

About half of the independents who said they plan to vote Democratic in their district said they are doing so primarily to vote against the Republican candidate rather than to affirmatively support the Democratic candidate, the Post said.

Democrats must pick up 15 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate to regain control of Congress.

The telephone poll of 1,200 adults was conducted October 19-22 and has an error margin of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.