Dems losing ground in swing states
A study released by the centrist group, The Third Way, reveals that more than 800,000 Democrats have left the party in 8 battleground states since 2008.
"The numbers show that Democrats' path to victory just got harder," said Lanae Erickson, the report's co-author. "We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008."
Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.
In eight states that will be must-wins in 2012 - Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania - Democrats lost 5.4 percent of their registered voters while Republicans lost 3.1 percent. The number of independent voters in those states jumped 3.4 percent.
"People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties," said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist. "The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters."
There will likely be more independent voters in the upcoming election than there has been in nearly 50 years, according to the report. But Jarding argues that could actually help Obama, if he plays his cards right.
Where will those new independent voters end up? It's hard to say but recent trends suggest that a majority will end up voting Republican. That might change depending on the GOP candidate, but it seems likely that indies - already favoring the GOP - might make Obama's uphil climb even steeper.