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31 October 2012

Team Obama: Writing Off Independents?

“We may not win these voters but we may not have to win these voters.”

- David Axelrod on Independent voters, 31 October 2012

LOL! Since 1972 (when Americans began to call themselves “Independents”), only one presidential candidate has won Indies and lost the election. That was John Kerry in 2004. He won Indies by less than 2%.

Interestingly, only a few months ago, Team Obama argued that Independents would decide the election.

"A senior strategist for President Obama says the November election will be decided by 15 per cent of the electorate--swing voters who haven't firmly made up their minds whether to support Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney."

 - Kenneth T Walsh, US News & World Report, 25 June 2012

A candidate cannot lose the independent vote by upper-single or double-digits in swing states (or even nationally) and win an election unless the opposition party stays home in DRAMATIC numbers and has enormous crossover. I’m talking about something on the level of having a David Duke, Malik Zulu Shabazz, or Jerry Sandusky as the nominee. That isn’t the case in this election. Romney actually has a higher favourability rating than Obama and Republicans are much more enthusiastic than they were in 2008.

Only the delusional believe that Democratic turnout will be higher and Republican turnout lower than in 2008.

One predictor of turnout is midterm election turnout. Take a look at the pattern:

In the 1998 midterms, turnout was D+2.

In 2000, turnout was D+4.

In the 2002 midterms, turnout was R+1.

In 2004, turnout was R+2.4.

In the 2006 midterms, turnout was D+3.

In 2008, turnout was D+5.

In the 2010 midterms, turnout was R+3.

If this pattern holds, Republican turnout will be higher than Democrat turnout.  Even if R turnout doesn’t eclipse D turnout, the pattern still suggests that D turnout will be lower and Republican turnout higher than both were in 2008.  This prediction is also backed up by all of the polling data, which shows Republicans have a sizable enthusiasm lead over Democrats. Further, recently released data suggest that many of Obama’s core constituencies (18-34, African-Americans, and Hispanics) are not likely to vote in the numbers that they did in 2008. This is especially true for Millennials.

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