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Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU. 4/19-22. Registered voters. MoE: ±3.1% (4/12-15 results):

Barack Obama (D): 49 (50)
Mitt Romney (R): 44 (44)
Undecided: 7 (6)
In a presidential election year, it could be fairly argued that two things are the key to victory. One is the composition of the electorate: in 2008, Democrats held their biggest edge in years in the composition of the electorate, according to the exit polls (39-32 over the GOP). The results, quite obviously, were very amenable to the Blue team. Conversely, in 2010, the GOP managed to arrive at parity with the Democrats (35-35), a rarity that proved to be instrumental in the Republican path to victory.

The second key to victory is a strong performance with unaffiliated, or independent, voters. In 2006 and 2008, independents behaved, as one GOP consultant at the time groused, like soft Democrats. In 2008, Obama carried this group 52-44. By 2010, however, it became clear that the tricky-to-define mass of independent voters had grown far more conservative: Republicans carried them nationally 56-37.

This week, the second week of our weekly tracking of the presidential election, let's put the independent voters under the microscope and see if they are more like the "soft Democrat" indies of 2008 or the tea-infused ones that hammered the Democrats in 2010. And while it is early (and this is but one poll), we can clearly see signs that it is more likely to be the former than the latter:

  • This crop of Independent voters does not particularly like Mitt Romney: Romney draws a comically weak 33/50 favorability spread with the sample of Indies for this week's Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation Poll. He also trails them in the ballot test with Barack Obama by a margin similar to that by which John McCain fell to Obama in 2008 (39-48).
  • If their feelings for the parties are any indicator, this is not a conservative crowd: Independent voters in our survey were not wild about the Democratic Party, but it wouldn't be unfair to call it a "mixed" assessment. Thirty-eight percent had a favorable opinion of the Democrats, while 44 percent had an unfavorable opinion. The GOP, meanwhile, was reviled with these Independent voters, with a net negative spread of 31 points (25/56). This gap represents a much bigger spread than we saw in 2010, where that "favorability spread" generally remained in the single digits between the two parties (although, even then, Democrats were viewed incrementally more favorably).
  • President Obama fares reasonably well with Independents, and might be improved by standing his ground with the GOP: His job approval with the group is slightly underwater (45/49), but his favorability ratings with them are a net positive (51/44). And contrary to the conventional wisdom that the president would need to equivocate his positions in order to attract Independents, 1 in 10 Independent voters actually find Obama to be "too conservative." That's actually even a higher proportion than the percentage of Democrats who feel that way.
  • If enthusiasm matters, Independents may matter less in 2012: If there is an "enthusiasm gap" this year, it is with this crop of voters. Now, in fairness, that is far from novel—Independents lack the "rooting interest" of partisanship that can often be a whale of a motivator to head to the polls. But the gap here is palpable: only 39 percent of Indies say that they are "very excited" about the 2012 elections, versus 31 percent who say that they are "not at all excited." For Democrats, that spread is 55/30. For Republicans, that spread is 50/28.

This sample of Independents, if they truly are representative of the electorate in six months or so, could spell enormous problems for Mitt Romney and the Republicans. If an enterprising Republican digs under the hood at this survey, they are going to have difficulty finding a hook on which to bleat about "bias." The liberal/conservative spread, if anything, favors the GOP. In 2008, the Lib/Con spread was conservative +12 (34/22). In this poll, the spread is conservative +22 (38/16). That 38 percent of self-identified conservatives is an exact midpoint between the 2008 and 2010 exit polls, as well. The partisan breakdown (D 40, R 34, I 26) might be a little light on Independent voters, but the six-point spread between Democrats and Republicans is actually a point less than the spread from the 2008 exit polls.

Worth noting: at the same time that PPP found very little movement in its polling of the presidential race, Gallup found an eight-point movement in the president's direction, while Rasmussen has bounced back and forth. Given the relative paucity of game-changing news events in the past week, I feel a bit more confident in this poll than one that showed mammoth shifts absent an obvious and compelling rationale for those shifts taking place.

P.S. As always, our approval and favorability numbers can be found on our weekly trends page.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
    Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

    by Steve Singiser on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 08:55:04 AM PDT

  •  Romney the pathological liar cannot win with...... (5+ / 0-)

    his extremely lousy polling among women and Latinos. It just cannot happen. This polling is consistent with Obama having a 10% edge among Indies. So what can he really do to fix the women/Latino problem? Lie some more?

  •  This data tells me that it's not panic time. (4+ / 0-)

    An incumbent with 51% approval with independents?  An opponent who can't connect with voters?  A Republican party who is losing every demographic except old, rich, white men?  If betting on elections were legal in the States, I'd put some bread on Obama.

  •  Could the game-changing shift for Gallup (12+ / 0-)

    possibly be that they started sampling minorities in the right proportions rather than at levels lower than 2010?

    Boehner (n) North German: variant of Böhnhaas - someone who does a job they don't have the qualifications for and who typically delivers shoddy work

    by Calouste on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:09:28 AM PDT

    •  Me thinks they did some adjusting (6+ / 0-)

      when they looked so obviously out of step with
      all the other polls. Tho, I doubt they would ever admit it.

      I don't think Gallup/Rasmussen are
      going to be able to control the narrative as much
      as they used to in the past. There are too many
      people "looking under the hood" these days and
      questioning results that had been being accepted as gospel
      by the MSM in the past.

      Today's problems are yesterday's solutions. Don Beck

      by Sherri in TX on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:21:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Independents are larger now than ever before (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Supavash, wishingwell, Delilah, bythesea, TofG

    According to Reason.com, at roughly 60% of voters.  Independents may not love Obama, but they loathe Romney.

    •  I'd consider myself "independent" (4+ / 0-)

      but for the fact that I absolutely refuse to vote for Republicans and that I like Obama and contribute to his campaign.

      But I'm no party line ideologue.  The Dems lack creativity, they suck ass at marketing themselves, and they are completely bereft of killer instinct, but for crissakes the GOP shouldn't even exist.

      Obama is at war with radical anti-American terrorists. The radical GOP is at war with American women. Take that and run with it DNC, you inept fucking pikers.

      by GOPGO2H3LL on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:24:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Granted, "independent" is a very broad term (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        that can include anything from Minarchists to Communists, and every single issue type from Prohibitionists to Greens.  I certainly didn't mean to imply that all independents feel that way.  There is likely some "independent" somewhere who thinks Willard is the savior of America.  It's a big country.

        The Reason survey was of registration among "likely voters."  The number of voters who identify with both parties is shrinking, and therefore the percentage who identify with them is shrinking faster.

    •  If not for some closed primary states, that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      atdnext

      number could be higher, I am thinking. Like here in PA, I talk to a lot of people who wish they were Independents as they do not want to be part of either party. They want to avoid the phone calls and fundraising calls.  But we live in a closed primary as you will see today when we in PA vote in the primary.

      Our primary results will be determined by Democrats and Republicans and no other party and no Independents.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:31:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's silly. (0+ / 0-)

        If anything, independents get even MORE campaign calls. Or at least, that's the case in California and Nevada. Because indy's (officially called "Nonpartisan" here and "Decline to State" in CA) are always seen as up for grabs, all parties and campaigns call them.

        •  Are your primaries open or closed as my friend (0+ / 0-)

          is an Independent and she gets no calls, maybe a couple around late October but that is it. She gets no calls asking for money for a candidate however and no calls around primaries as we are a Closed primary state.

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 12:08:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Our primaries are also closed... (0+ / 0-)

            But in races where there's not much primary action and the general election is the big focus, Nonpartisans are nonetheless called as early as February. While they're obviously not called for fundraising (unless they're already on someone's dialing-for-dollars list), they're called constantly for their votes.

            •  That is interesting as my friend sees little of (0+ / 0-)

              that in SE PA.  She has signed up with the Obama campaign and donates to them so she accepts and expects their calls. But she is not a Democrat and she does not donate to anyone other than Obama. Obama won her over completely.  

              Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

              by wishingwell on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 03:40:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  They're not really Independents (0+ / 0-)

      They're just posers. True "pure" Independents make up about 10% of the electorate. The rest are other lean Democrat or lean Republican.

  •  If the GOPlutocrats (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Supavash, wishingwell, TheLizardKing

    didn't have a massive propaganda operation they wouldn't even be a viable party, let alone within striking distance.

    Fucking horrid that they even exist.

    Obama is at war with radical anti-American terrorists. The radical GOP is at war with American women. Take that and run with it DNC, you inept fucking pikers.

    by GOPGO2H3LL on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:20:12 AM PDT

  •  On quick look at PPP's details, I have a hard time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, typo ink

    ... believing some of the results. Particularly, for those with incomes over $100,000: 53% for Obama vs. 39% for Romney, with 8% undecided. That is contrary to other poll results to date (although the income levels in those others may have been higher than $100,000.) Especially odd are the next two lower income groups polling more favorably for Romney.  At $50,000-$75,000, 50% to 45% favor Romney. At $75,000-$100,000, it's 53% to 41% for Romney. (Perhaps that is due to sample size for those groups. Or suddenly diminished incomes and they're pissed?)

    Interestingly, too, I don't see education levels tested in this PPP poll.

    That said, may most of PPP's results (1) be so, (2) remain so until November 6th and (3) extend to the rest of the ticket.

    Obama and strong Democratic majorities in 2012!

    by TRPChicago on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:20:35 AM PDT

    •  Is that respondent income or family income? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, LordMike

      Because it it's the latter, you get into territory like I'm in, a lot of two-public-sector-bureaucrat households and things start looking a lot less Republican-friendly, especially nowadays.  But it's it's respondent income, I would certainly share your befuddlement since it's a much more conservative demographic.

      But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

      by Rich in PA on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:24:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In 2008 Obama tied McCain with families making (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA, atdnext

        over $100,000 49% to 49% (page 33-34 How Obama Won by Chuck Todd). Remember a college education tends to make people more Democratic. The GOP base are working class whites (more economically down scale), Evangelicals (who make slightly less than the national average) and the the country club/CEO crowd.

        A family of two college graduates can very easily be in the $50,000 a year each range. Pushing the family income over $100,000.

        The $50,000 to $100,000 favoring Romney makes perfect sense. A blue collar man and his wife each making $28,000 to $32,000 a year is a family income of $60,000.

        -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

        by dopper0189 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:35:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A masters degree makes one more Dem... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          atdnext

          ...an undergrad degree does not.  In fact, it's usually the opposite.

          GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

          by LordMike on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:46:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a good point. In our 2010 Senate race... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LordMike

            Harry Reid and Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrron Angle actually tied among voters with Bachelor's Degrees... Perhaps Angle even won them by a tiny margin (!!!). But among both high school grads and voters with advanced degrees, Reid won fairly comfortably.

          •  Where are you getting that from? (0+ / 0-)

            Obama won every state in the top 10 of percentage of college grads. In order CO, DC (yeah I know),Conn, NY, NH, VT, VA, Maryland ,NJ, Mass.

            He only won 2 in the bottom 10 and will likely only repeat in one of those. In order. WV, Miss., ID , IN, MI, OK, Kentucky, MO, Arkansas, LA.

            Obama went 47% to 51% with whites with a college degree, but only 40 to 58% with those without one. Kerry in 2004 went 44% to 55% with those with a degree but 38% to 61% for those without one.

            An associates degree makes a white person slightly more Republican, but I've seen no evidence that an undergrad does this. In fact it's quite the opposite.

            The data above are from exit polling.

            -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

            by dopper0189 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:55:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is only one place what you said is true (0+ / 0-)

              It's in the deep south (Miss, Alabama, etc) + Texas.  The data does show this. But as a nation as a whole this is not true.  

              -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

              by dopper0189 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:59:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  If two people each making $28-32K a year... (0+ / 0-)

          ... constitute a pro-Romney household in 2012, aren't we in deep, deep do-do?

          Obama and strong Democratic majorities in 2012!

          by TRPChicago on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:20:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No... that's the GOP base... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dufffbeer

            Voters who make around $65K a year are the GOP base--white blue collar voters who think they are rich and think that everyone wants to take their vast wealth and give it to the "undeserving".

            That income group is the most heavily GOP in the country.  It incorporates a lot of older suburbs, small towns and rural areas as well as the deep south.  

            GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

            by LordMike on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:43:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  When you get down to income level, sample size MOE (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itskevin, TRPChicago

      does become at a larger, and can produce some numbers that appear out of whack.

      At the same time, there's not necessarily a direct correlation of income level to support of Romney.  So it's tough to look at a given set of income internals and come to a conclusion.

  •  What is the current wisdom.... (0+ / 0-)

    ...on what favorability actually means?  Many people don't see Obama favorably but would certainly vote for him (I'm one of those people on my bad days), while others see Obama favorably but might not vote for him.  Why don't we just ask people who they would vote for?

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:26:20 AM PDT

  •  Once again you didn't poll CORPORATE PEOPLE! FAIL! (5+ / 0-)

    Mitt Romney leads this group by an improbable 99 to 1!

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:26:37 AM PDT

  •  Online poll (0+ / 0-)

    If you look at this online poll, there are a lot of people who are disappointed in Obama but will still vote for them.  The total is a large margin.

    You can vote on this poll here.

  •  Interesting... (3+ / 0-)

    I never thought of and independent voter enthusiasm gap.  That's something that Nate should do some analysis on.  I can definitely see where folks who classify themselves as "indy" would be totally disgusted by the whole system now and feel like checking out entirely.

    I would think that's not a good thing for Romney, since it's indies who are really mad at the government right now and much more likely to be persuaded to take it out on the president when push comes to shove (like they did in 2010)--at least in theory.  

    GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

    by LordMike on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:50:34 AM PDT

  •  Hey Kos pollsters (0+ / 0-)

    How about a real poll that asks about 3rd party candidates who will actually be on the ballot in most states, as opposed to just fallaciously lumping everyone into the 'undecided' column?  You should always ask at least one question that includes 3rd party candidates from the Green, Libertarian and Constitution parties, or if nothing else has a 3rd option of '3rd party'.  

    Many of the so-called independents you discuss in your article you consider independent because they are not affiliated this week with the D's or R's, but in fact are registered members of the 3rd parties mentioned above.  Why not include them in the polls?

    By only polling 2 candidates, you continue to perpetuate the anti-democratic 2-party system.

    Green is more than an ad slogan. Live Green, vote Green.

    by green in brooklyn on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 09:54:34 AM PDT

    •  Probably because (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itskevin, Theston, Larsstephens, askew

      the one percent or so they make up combined is less than the MOE, and thus irrelevant to this discussion as well as the vast majority of races.

      •  Occupy (0+ / 0-)

        I think you'll be unpleasantly surprised if the Occupy movement decides to get political, because they certainly are not going to vote Obama.  Jill Stein is already gaining a fair amount of respect and support within the movement.

        Plus, the only way to know if the support is more than 1% is to actually ask the questions on the poll.

        Green is more than an ad slogan. Live Green, vote Green.

        by green in brooklyn on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:37:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          is no need to ask in the poll and it's not like there is a lack of data about third party voters.  Such individuals would have answered "neither" if given a question about for whom they are voting and only were given the major party candidates.  I don't expect to be "unpleasantly surprised" by anything, though you may be if you really expect a significant number of voters to vote third party.

        •  I'm very scared (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, bythesea

          somehow I doubt that many folks are going to be occupying a voter booth to vote Green.

          26, originally OK-1, currently NY-10. Former swingnut.

          by okiedem on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 04:01:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  When a third party candidate.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bythesea

      ....who makes an impact emerges, they'll get mentioned. Nader (in 2000), Perot, Anderson, etc all come to mind. Right now, none have emerged.

      •  I wonder if Virgil Goode (0+ / 0-)

        has the potential to matter.  I guess he might "Naderize" Romney in some place (but most were he could are deep red and thus not likely to flip anyway).  Maybe Missouri?

        •  I think the only way he matters is (0+ / 0-)

          if VA is close. Goode might be able to shave enough off of Romney to make Obama pull through. As VA could be the tipping point, Goode could easily become Nader II!

          Registered in NY-02, College CT-01, Spent most of the rest of my life on the border of NY-08 and NY-15

          by R30A on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 11:32:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That could be, though (0+ / 0-)

            VA doesn't look likely to be close like that.

            •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bythesea

              I doubt VA will be so close that he matters, and so I doubt that Goode will matter much at all. But one can only hope. (Well, if we are getting into the things which I hope, I'd love it if Goode pulled a strong showing and took WV, TN, KY, and say AR, but I don't see that as very likely :D )

              Registered in NY-02, College CT-01, Spent most of the rest of my life on the border of NY-08 and NY-15

              by R30A on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 01:21:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Slippage With Hispanic Voters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike

    I noticed that in the detailed info that Obama is only pulling high 50's levels with Hispanic voters.  He needs to do better than that.

  •  I think you're being optimistic (0+ / 0-)
    If an enterprising Republican digs under the hood at this survey, they are going to have difficulty finding a hook on which to bleat about "bias."
    This poll has +6 Dems; Rasmussen has something like +4 Republicans. In turn his justification is his "partisanship index" which he's been running for years and in the last couple, for the first time, has shown a majority of Republicans in the country. In 2008 I think it was showing about +6 Dems, so no doubt he'd claim it's got a solid track record.

    The question of the composition of Ds and Rs is obviously critically important, and looks set to be a point of major contention between different polling organisations.

    I suspect +6 D is on the optimistic side, as Republicans in 2008 were facing massive headwinds with a despised incumbent and economic meltdown. 2010 saw weak D participation and that had a roughly even D-R composition of the electorate. Obviously it will depend a lot on what happens betweeen now and November - I'd guess that if the election were held now it'd probably be something in-between, say about +3 Dems. But Rasmussen claims to have evidence that the country has become significantly more Republican even since 2010, so I doubt he's going to modify his samples anytime soon. Expect therefore to see continuing large discrepancies between his national polls and PPP's.

  •  I'm glad that National Journal outed Gallup... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    itskevin, askew, TofG

    Take a look at their numbers today.  It's clear that they've been embarrassed and are reporting more realistic numbers, at least for the present.  I wouldn't be surprised to see more of their shenanigans in the future.

    GODSPEED TO THE WISCONSIN FOURTEEN!

    by LordMike on Tue Apr 24, 2012 at 10:46:47 AM PDT

  •  With regards to turnout (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    I don't understand why people labor over "estimating" what turnout will be. The true swings happen during mid-terms, not presidential election years.

    For example, from 1976-2004, the average Party ID was 39/33/28, or Democrat +6. And what was the turnout the following election in 2008? 39/32/29, or Democrat +7 and a change of just one point.

    Same thing applies to Ideology (which is a better indicator even during mid-terms because people don't all of a sudden consider themselves a Conservative when they were a Liberal four years ago). In that regard, from 1976-2004 the averages were 19/47/32, or Conservative +13. The 2008 election? 22/44/34, or Conservative +12. Again, just a one point shift from the expected turnout.

    Using those models -- and of course we're not talking absolute science here -- but we can expect Party ID for 2012 to be somewhere around Democrat +6 and Ideology to be around Conservative +13 (plus/minus a point or two). If you see survey internals deviating from those markers by more than just a few points, there's a problem with the poll.

    It's also important to note that going all the way back to 1976, Democratic turnout has NEVER been below 37%. The one outlier was oddly in 1980 when it was 43% (all other election years were 38 or 39 percent).

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