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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Good Baseline For Understanding Indies in 2010

Here at TDS, we got very focused immediately after the November 2 election on analyzing the alleged impact of self-identified independents, who were widely (and often misleadingly) attributed with a decisive role in the outcome. We’ve published pieces on this subject by Andrew Levision, James Vega and myself (one of them channelling Ruy Teixeira!) just in the last few days.
But for those who have just become aware of the controversy over indies, a good empirically-based starting point might be a piece written by my Progressive Policy Institute colleague, Lee Drutman, which served as part of a PPI post-election forum on independents in which TDS Co-Editors Stan Greenberg and William Galston also participated (an audiotape is available here).

Drutman runs the numbers efficiently, but then gets down to the nub of the matter: defining true independents in a realistic way, as distinguished from Republican-leaning “independents” who’ve shared the GOP’s lurch to the Right; noting the impact of disparate turnout patterns for various demographic groups, which shaped the “independent” electorate as much as any other voting group; and then distinguishing the “performance” concerns (e.g., reaction to the bad economy) from the “policy” concerns that might guide future actions by the Obama administration.
He leaves plenty of room for argument over the exact influence of this or that factor, whether it’s structural, performance-based, or policy-based. But Drutman provides a solid baseline for discussion of this subject among all elements of the progressive coalition.

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