Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

The Real Majority: And what it means for President Obama

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This is the second of a three part post series. In the first post, The Real Majority, I discussed the growing trend of moderately identifying Americans and the growing trend of polarized politicians. As destination270 has discussed, this election will ultimately ride on the success of the candidate to capture the undecided, independent and moderate voters. (Again, these three terms should not be used interchangeably as they represent a different electorate)

In order for Obama to take this election home come November 6th he has to conquer those key independent voters who will not use party identification to persuade them. According to a poll released early this morning,

In 2008, President Barack Obama won the independent vote over John McCain by a margin of eight points, 52-44. This morning, a new Battleground Poll has Mitt Romney massacring Obama among indies by a whopping 16 points, 51-35.

The Politico Poll also looked into the key concept of likely voters. Historically speaking, amongst ‘undecided’ and ‘independent’ voters, those who have aligned on the Republican side of party identification have shown up to the polls at a greater rate than undecided or independent (leaning left) democrats. Thus, the Obama camp must determine which constituencies are going to show up on November 6th, and show up to support him. Perhaps The Real Majority is not going to be his key focus. Perhaps, as Democratic Pollster Celinda Lake said, “The campaign is juggling the challenge of getting the last persuadable voters and motivating the base.”

If we look back at the Real Majority, we can see that the people who compose this group are not voting along party lines. Rather, they are the issue voters. Independents are independents by nature because their ideal platform does not draw from one Party platform over another. Therefore it will be key for Obama to look at which issue is most important to these independent voters, and attempt to come to the moderate middle ground of that issue.
Amongst women independents this key issue may be entirely different than the key issue of an independent college student, which might be completely different from an independent small business owner.

Issue Voting in Presidential Elections

1972-2004

 

 

Issue Scale

Criteria 1

 

 

Placed Self on Scale

Criteria 2

 

Placed both candidates on scale

Criteria 3

 

Saw difference between the candidates

Criteria 4

 

Saw Democrat as more liberal than

Republican

2004  Election

Government spending/services

Jobs and Standard of Living

Aid to Minorities

Intervention: Diplomacy v. Military

Women’s Rights

Jobs & Environment Tradeoff

Defense Spending

Average 2004 (7 Issues)

86%

91%

89%

93%

95%

83%

86%

89%

76%

78%

70%

88%

77%

66%

79%

76%

66%

65%

52%

85%

45%

52%

71%

62%

53%

57%

46%

81%

35%

47%

65%

52%

Average for the Election of:

2000 (7 Issues)

1996 (9 issues)

1992 (3 issues)

1988 (7 issues)

1984 (7 issues)

1980 (9 issues)

1976 (9 issues)

1972 (8 issues)

87%

89%

85%

86%

84%

82%

84%

90%

69%

80%

71%

66%

73%

61%

58%

65%

51%

65%

66%

52%

62%

51%

39%

49%

41%

55%

52%

43%

53%

43%

26%

41%

Adapted from Table 6-2 in Paul Abramson, John Aldrich, and David Rohde, Change and Continuity in the 2004  Election.

 

Data Source: National Election Studies

If I had the magic key for Obama’s victory, I would not be sitting here writing this, rather, I’d replace Stephanie Cutter. I do think, though, that not acknowledging these differences amongst one electorate  would be detrimental to anyone’s campaign.

Take a peak at this independent voter blog.

http://independentvotersofamerica.org/what-do-we-know-about-independents/

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