Cross-posted from Campaign For America's Future
Mainstream Democratic campaign consultants and pollsters typically tell candidates they should "move to the right" and campaign to the "center" with positions that are "between" the "left" and the "right." This is the way, they say, to "attract swing voters" who would be "scared off" by a candidate who takes populist positions that favor the interests of the 99 percent over the interests of the 1 percent.
Polling and experience show that exactly the opposite might be true.
This week Lynn Vavrek writes at the New York Times Upshot blog, in "The Myth of Swing Voters in Midterm Elections":
"There just aren't that many swing voters. ... Ultimately voters tend to come home to their favored party. There are relatively few voters who cross back and forth between the parties during a campaign or even between elections."- Advertisement -
Looking at the Democratic loss in the 2010 election, this is the key:
"The results clearly show that voters in 2010 did not abandon the Democrats for the other side, but they did forsake the party in another important way: Many stayed home."
Again: In 2010, "swing" voters did not "shift" toward Republicans. What happened was that Democrats stayed home.
2011 Pew Poll: Independents Aren't "Centrists"
Who are the "independent" voters? In 2011 The Washington Post's "The Fix" looked at a Pew Research Center poll. In the post, "The misunderstood independent," Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza wrote (emphasis added)
"In politics, it's often tempting to put independents somewhere in the middle of Republicans and Democrats, politically. They identify somewhere in between the two, so they must be moderates, right?
"A new study from the Pew Research Center suggests that's not so true anymore. Independents, in fact, are a fast-growing and increasingly diverse group that both parties are going to need to study and understand in the years ahead.- Advertisement -
"... Pew identifies three different kinds of independents. Libertarians and Disaffecteds are 21 percent of registered voters and lean towards Republicans; Post-Moderns are 14 percent and lean towards Democrats.
"A look at their views on issues shows those three groups can often be among the most extreme on a given topic.
"Disaffecteds, for example, believe in helping the needy more than most Democrats. Libertarians side with business more than even the solidly Republican Staunch Conservatives. And Post-Moderns accept homosexuality more than most Democrats. The three independents groups are also less religious, on the whole, than either Republicans or most Democrats."
In other words, polling shows that many "independents" are to the left of Democrats and many others are to the right of Republicans. They are not "in the middle" or "between" but rather are more likely to stay home and not vote for candidates who move "to the middle." Those independents to the right of Republicans are not going to vote for Democrats no matter how far "to the right" the Democratic candidate goes.
2010 PPP Poll: The Independents Who Stayed Home