TROUBLE FOR DEMS AMONG THE SWINGERS – AT 10:35 A.M. ET: A new examination by Bloomberg shows a surge for independents in swing states, at the expense of Democrats. This doesn't guarantee anything for Republicans, as indies can swing back to the Dems, but it clearly is becoming an electoral factor.
Independent voters are growing in numbers at the expense of Democrats in battleground states most likely to determine this year’s presidential election, a Bloomberg News analysis shows.
The collective total of independents grew by about 443,000 in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina since the 2008 election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from state election officials.
During the same time, Democrats saw a net decline of about 480,000 in those six states, while Republicans -- boosted in part by a competitive primary earlier this year -- added roughly 38,000 voters in them, the analysis shows.
“Democrats hit the high-water mark for registration in 2008, so it’s natural that they are going to see some drop off,” said Michelle Diggles, a senior policy analyst with the Democratic-leaning Third Way research group in Washington who conducted a similar study earlier this year.
The rise of independent voters has had a major impact on recent election results.
In 2008, President Barack Obama won 52 percent of the independent vote, according to national exit polls, which was one percentage less than his overall total. Senator John McCain of Arizona, his Republican opponent, collected 44 percent of the independent vote -- 2 points less than his overall total. Independents represented 29 percent of the total electorate that year.
In 2006, independents backed Democrats by an 18-percentage- point margin nationwide in House races, handing the party control of the chamber for the first time in 12 years. In 2010, they backed Republicans over Democrats in House races by a 19- point margin, as Republicans regained the chamber’s majority.
Independent voters are growing in numbers because of dissatisfaction with Republicans and Democrats, Diggles said.
“Independents are really just fed up with both parties,” she said. “Most elections are about the center and that’s where the swing vote is going to come from.”
A Bloomberg survey taken June 15-18 showed 50 percent of independents view the Republican Party unfavorably, while 47 percent say that about the Democratic Party.
COMMENT: One great advantage Romney has is that he isn't toxic to independents. He doesn't come off as a fanatic. If he can balance that characteristic with a specific program that convinces people that he actually has solutions to problems, he might swing the independent vote his way...by enough to win in November.
The quote in the story is correct: Most elections are about the center. Pick up the centrists and you generally win.
July 11, 2012