Independents Are Up For Grabs In 2012 Election
Two years ago, Barack Obama painted the nation blue in the presidential election. But just two weeks ago in the midterm elections, Republican victories re-colored the election map red.
Americans who identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats are increasingly leaning toward the conservative right or the liberal left respectively, as opposed to the political center. The majority of Americans, however, now identify themselves as decline to state voters or Independents, falling into the middle of the ideological spectrum.
According to exit polls from the midterm elections, Americans were split almost even on all of the major issues that determined the outcome – 48 percent favored repealing the healthcare overhaul while 47 percent favored keeping or even expanding the bill. When asked about jobs, 39 percent said the government should focus on reducing the national deficit, but 37 percent favored higher government spending to create more jobs.
Perhaps as a result, the 2010 elections saw various Congressional and Senate races determined by less than 100,000 votes. In Colorado, for example, Democrat Michael Bennett defeated Republican Ken Buck by 0.9 percent of the vote for a seat in the Senate. But in Illinois, Republican Mark Kirk defeated Democrat Alexi Giannoulias by only 1.9 percent, or roughly 71,000 votes.
These tight elections have been determined by the 42 percent of Americans who describe themselves as Independents. Independents often lean towards one party but are usually swayed by the current mood of the nation. In 2008, frustrated with the Bush administration, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bailouts, Independents voted in favor of Obama. Two years later, with national unemployment steady around 9 percent and a rising deficit, Independents took their anger out on the Democrats and elected a Republican House.
Republican gains were mostly associated with districts with high percentages of white populations, blue-collar workers--determined as voters without a college education--and older voters, while Democrats remained strong in districts with high populations like cities and metropolises.
As both parties look forward to 2012, the Republicans are celebrating their new diversity including women and Hispanics, while Obama and the Democratic Party are responding to the voter outrage and making a stronger effort towards a bipartisan approach, both in the long battle for Independent votes.
Reach reporter Samantha Yerks here.