Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Election 2012 and the Profile of a Swing Voter

While it is always important to rally the party base, the unaffiliated voters that make up around 15% of the electorate typically decide elections.  Now that Mitt Romney has solidified his spot as the GOP candidate, we will undoubtedly see his stance on the issues move toward the center in order to sway these voters.  But which issues matter to unaffiliated voters, and how will both parties frame them?

A recent article by Bill Keller in the New York Times addresses these topics and puts forth a profile of swing voters referenced from Third Way, a Clintonian think tank.   The first three points in the article about these voters are particularly noteworthy:  They tend to be fiscal conservatives worried about deficits and debt, they tend to be free marketers but expect governmental help in physical and intellectual infrastructure, and they don’t oppose tax increases.

Since I am particularly interested in the whole deficit/debt problem that is facing our country, I would like to discuss how politically feasible the Simpson-Bowles plan is for either party.  As we discussed with Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the plan seems to be a middle ground solution to out fiscal woes combining various cuts with tax increases.  If swing voters are so concerned about the deficits and debt, don’t mind tax increases, and a middle ground solution has already been proposed, then why doesn’t either party try to claim it for its own?  Will it alienate either base so much that it will discourage voting in the upcoming election?  Or is it a result of political posturing where neither side wants to compromise (liberals with cuts and conservatives with tax increases)?

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