Swing Voters Need a Champion
Independent voters make up 40 percent of the electorate, yet they are largely ignored by
Why did you write this book?
I have been covering politics my entire adult life and I have been growing more and more concerned about the state of our politics, about the dysfunction, about the polarization, about the nastiness, about the inability to deal with our most important problems and issues, and about the pervasiveness of money. I became aware of the fact that 40 percent of all the voters are independents -- most of them in the center of the political spectrum. I was feeling very strongly that they were not well represented by the system. They needed a champion, if you will, to talk about their concerns and introduce them.
If independent, centrist voters are such a big bloc, why is there such gridlock in
That's at the heart of the problem. If they were represented in our government, I am convinced things wouldn't be such a mess. One [reason] is that you don't have open primaries. In over half the states in the country, only Democrats or Republicans can vote in the primary. Independents won't be allowed to vote. So you have a system that is not truly democratic, that is not truly representative. So the candidates play to the extremes. Centrists find it very hard to get elected. Part of it is how [congressional] districts are drawn. It's handled by state legislators -- in almost all the states -- in backroom deals that don't involve the public. They draw districts that are safe Republican and Democratic seats. They don't have to play to the center, they only have to play to the base.
Why did President Obama fail to bring bipartisanship to
Part of it was the intransigence of Democratic leaders. Part of it was the Republicans. There was a brief moment when there were moderate Republicans who would have worked with the president and who were interested in doing that, but I think they were rebuffed to a certain extent. They were rebuffed by Democratic leaders and cowed by their own leadership, and that quickly faded and they quickly fell into line. The Republicans felt like they weren't going to help Obama on anything. From my perspective, Republicans may have been a little more intransigent, but both the Republican and the Democratic leadership in
What are the four types of independents you discuss in your book?
You've got the NPR Republicans who are the moderate Republicans that tend to be more affluent. These NPR Republicans are socially moderate, but they are more fiscally conservative. The America First Democrats, of my four groups, are probably the most socially conservative. They tend to be more religious, working class, middle class, policemen, factory workers, that kind of thing. There's the young voters who obviously voted for Obama in big numbers in 2008. But they have been hit hard by the economy and they are having trouble finding jobs, they've got student loans. Then, of course, you have the
What can they all agree on?
I think they can actually agree on a lot. That's one of the central points of the book. As you go around the country and you talk to people, there are a lot of people who are in the center, and there are a lot of people who agree on a great deal, and they like some things that the
What role will swing voters play in the 2012 election?
I think they are up for grabs. A lot of them did vote for Obama in 2008, and a lot of them that I interviewed a year or two later were rather disappointed with what they were getting. Obviously the economy is issue No. 1. It is all about the economy and jobs and how people feel about their own situation, and that is going to be absolutely the biggest issue in this campaign.
What do the media not understand about swing voters?
I think what the media misses is that there is this core group in the center that is in agreement on a great many things. And they want movement forward, they want solutions. I don't think the media is focusing at all on that group and their concerns.
Read the latest political news.
- If American Manufacturers Keep Jobs, So Does Obama
- GOP Will Lose in 2012 if Social Issues Take Center Stage
- Why Looks Are Everything in a Presidential Election
- Swing Voters Need a Champion
- Good Businessmen Rarely Make Good Presidents
- Un-Presidential Primaries
- Inside Rick Santorum's Head
- Improving Economy Driving Independents Back to Obama
- The Federal Budget Is a Myth
- Don't Expect Too Much of the Next US President
- There's Still Potential for Palin Presidency
- Understanding the Real Mitt Romney
- A Pointed Comment on Ronald Reagan's Legacy
- Tim Tebow: Public Faith vs Private Faith
- Distorting Civil Rights History
- Obama Campaign: We'll Win Largest Latino Vote Percentage Ever
- Could High Gas Prices Hurt Obama's Reelection Campaign?
- Now the Santorum Option
- The GOP Race Gets Messy
- Buyer's Remorse Already?
- Mitt Romney is Dangerously Naive on Foreign Policy
- Concerning the Poor and Mitt Romney
- For Worse or For Worst, Guns Rule
- The Donald Backs The Mitt
- The Case for Mitt Romney
- Romney Running Against Economic Recovery
- Ron Paul's Appealing to Mormons
- Playing with Fire
- Profiting from the Pentagon
- Super PACs: Hypocrisy and Necessity
- The Sad Spectacle of Obama's Super PAC
- Obama Has It Right on Birth Control
- Save the Babies
- Republicans Enjoy the Health Care They'd Deny to the Rest
- War Through Weakness?
- Liberals are the True Aggressors in Culture Wars
- Nearing a Decision on Iran
- Newt Gingrich's Alinsky Claims Miss Their Mark
- Newt Gingrich's Secret Alinsky Love
- The un-Obama
- The President's 'Social Gospel'
- War Against Mexican Drug Cartels Needs New Focus
- Globalizing Private Sector, Government Overwhelmed by Corporate Money
- America's Constitutional Paralysis
- When It Comes to Taxes, No One Has Defined 'Fair'
- Mitt Romney is the Type Americans Want to Empower Economically
- A Flat Tax Is the Answer
- Punishing the Rich Is a Mistake
- Increase Capital Gains Tax, Decrease Corporate Tax
- Warren Buffett Is Right
- Europe Needs a Marshall Plan
- World Views: Niall Ferguson Interview
- Wealthy Tax Cheats
- The 1 Percent Candidate
- Larry Sabato Warns of Electoral 'Newt-Mare'
- The Hottest TV Drama in 2012
- Trailing Newt Gingrich Makes Plea for Votes
- Newt Gingrich Looks For Winning Strategy
- Eisenhower's 'Military-Industrial Complex' and JFK's Inaugural
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Those Who Hated Him
- Do All the GOP Debates Matter?
- Will Dems Call New Tax Law 'The Romney Rule?'
- 'Buffett Rule' Could Create Unintended Consequences
- Why Swing State Republican Governors Will Get Obama Re-Elected
- State of the Union Speech Focuses on Middle Class Success
- Will Obama's Mortgage Refinance Plan Be D.O.A.?
- State of the Union Shows Few Opportunities for Congressional Action
- Obama Uses State of the Union Speech to Rebuff GOP Attacks
- Obama Channels Clinton in State of the Union
- Obama Crafted a Winning Message
- Winning Words, But Not a Winner
- Obama's Speech Will Be Forgotten
- State of the Union Was Typical for Election Year
- Obama's State of the Union Failed
- Incumbents Have History on Their Side
- Obama's Side of the Nation's Story
- Justice John Paul Stevens on How the Supreme Court Works
- There Is a Judicial Confirmation Crisis and the GOP Is Causing It
Pentagon Budget Ends Post-9/11 Era:
Ushers in Pacific Era
- Senator Puts Nuclear Arsenal in Doubt
- Management Tips Mitt Romney Can Use to Save His Campaign
- Rick Santorum's New Target: Gingrich's Reagan Credentials
- GOP Not As Split as the Media Wants You to Think
- Primary Primer: 5 Things to Know about Florida
- On Courting Public Sentiment
- Ike's Lessons for Obama
- Bill Clinton Says Gingrich 'Just Like Romney'
- Newt Gingrich: Buying Our Future
- The Off-the-Radar Congressional Targets of 2012
- Green Energy Investments Pay Off in the Long Run
- Investment in Clean Energy Production Is a Must
- It's Up to the Private Sector to Invest in New Technology
- Competition, Not Handouts, Should Determine Role of Green Energy
- Government Has a History Supporting Emerging Industries
- Green Energy Dramatically Benefits the Nation
- Subsidies for Green Energy Do Not Help American Consumers
- Super PACs: Destroy Our Future
- Super PACs: Super-sized Influence, Super Lack of Transparency
- Super PACs Are a Form of Political Participation
- Super PACs Need to Disclose Political Activity
- Super PACs Engage in More Positive Than Negative Messaging
- Super PACs Enhance Democracy
- Super PACs Make It Harder for Average Americans to be Heard
- Super PACs Level the Playing Field
- Super PACs Promote Attack Ads and Special Interests
- Dollar Democracy
- 2012 Election Will Decide Which New Wars Will Be Waged
- Why 2012 Will Be Obama-Clinton vs Romney-Rubio
- Revenge of the Internet Nerds
- The Decline of Public Good
- We Must Reignite America's Can-Do Spirit
Free Enterprise on Trial:
Who Bears the Risks?
- Mitt Romney Goes on the Offensive
- Bain Capitalism
- How a Populist Obama Can Win
- Obama: A Question of Priorities
- Newtzilla Conquers All?
- Gingrich Follows GOP Playbook on Racism
- Newt Gingrich as Insurgent
- Newt Gingrich: It's Complicated
- Gingrich and The Politics of Division
- Ron Paul: The Great Contrarian
- Ron Paul and Louis Farrakhan - Birds of a Feather?
- Ron Paul's Kooky Moment
- Ron Paul: Foolish Consistency or Just Foolishness?
- Trying to Stop Mitt Romney
- Mitt Romney's Authenticity Problem
- Romney's Big Problem: Hispanic Voters
- Romney's Lies: Mitt Romney Has a Truth Problem
- Romney's Wealth and Influence on the Campaign Trail
- Mitt Romney: Electability vs Likability
- Romney's Backward Views on States Rights
- Mitt Romney Must Win Battle of the Bloat
- Mitt Romney: People Inc.
- The Luck of Mitt Romney
- Romney's 'Mormon Question'
- Would Today's GOP Elect Ronald Reagan?
- Defense Spending: A Shovel-Ready Investment
- Don't Die Stupid
- Three Conservative Victories
- Not By Sight, But By Faith
- To Spur Economy, United States Must Reform Legal Immigration
- Five Reasons Rick Perry Failed
- Overthrow Wall Street
- Civilization in Reverse
- Momentum of Cynicism
- China's JFK moment
Swing Voters Need a Champion | Politics
Copyright © 2012 Tribune Media Services