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WASHINGTON (AP) — Near the midpoint of his presidency, Barack Obama's diverse voter coalition reveals giant cracks and he faces major work repairing his standing among independents in states crucial to his re-election chances.
Catholics. Older people. Women. Young adults. They shifted toward Republicans in this month's elections and failed to support Obama's Democratic Party as they did in 2008.
Two years before voters render judgment on his tenure, Obama's most critical task may be winning back those who aren't affiliated with a party but who hold enormous sway in close contests. National exit polls from the midterm elections show these voters broke heavily for Republicans after helping elect Obama and Democrats in the two previous elections.
The trouble with this constituency appears even deeper for Obama in places expected to be closely contested in the next White House race, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of exit polls in 26 states. It shows just how much ground Obama must make up with independents between now and November 2012.
"Over the last two years, we've made progress. But clearly too many Americans haven't felt that progress yet," the president said after the election. "As president, I take responsibility for that."
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