MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Political mailers are stuffed in their front doors and the phone rings nonstop. Under a fall canopy of crimson and golden leaves, the battle for independent voters is being waged hour by hour in battleground New Hampshire.
The state offers only four electoral votes in next week’s presidential election, but President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are vying fiercely here for the remaining independent voters, who are decidedly ambivalent about either candidate.
Obama won a majority of independent voters in 2008 with visions of a post-partisan administration that could break the logjam in Washington after eight years under George W. Bush. But the gridlock remains and Obama and Romney are now competing for a rapidly diminishing number of independent voters, who could comprise 30 percent or more of the electorate in a series of must-win states.
Polling by Pew Research found Obama and Romney virtually tied among independents throughout the fall, but the Republican has opened up a small lead with this group in recent days. Polling by The Washington Post and ABC News shows Romney leading among independents, findings which Romney’s campaign points to as evidence of independents breaking his way.
“I probably will go with Romney,” said Don Hodgman, an undecided Democrat from Manchester who voted for Obama last time. “I hate to say it — it’s the lesser of two evils.”
In nearby Nashua, Patty Cardin, an independent who works in retail, pointed to the vanity plate on her silver Chrysler Sebring. “My license plate says it all — FAITH,” said Cardin, who voted absentee for Obama because she was turned off by the Republican’s views on abortion.
“It was just a sense in my gut,” she said outside her gym. “Obama is a little bit closer to getting us on the track to where we need to be.”
Obama’s campaign says it still holds a slight advantage with independents, approaching — but not quite reaching — his level of support in 2008, when he won independents by about 8 points over Republican John McCain.