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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Greenberg on Independents

Eric Benson has a New York magazine interview with TDS Co-Editor Stanley B. Greenberg on the topic of Independent voters. On who they are:

…Independents are a hodgepodge; it doesn’t work to look at them as having any common worldview. There are affluent suburban voters who are fiscally conservative and culturally liberal; there are seniors, who are more populist than the population as a whole; and there are a high number of white, blue-collar voters who are deeply angry and have been explosive in election after election. In 2006 and 2008, all these groups voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. In 2010, they voted overwhelmingly for Republicans. Right now, I don’t think we have a clue where they’re going.

On how Dems lost them:

…Seniors were very upset over health-care reform, the squeezing of their pensions, and being forced back into the job market. Non-college white voters saw themselves facing declining incomes and concluded that the economic-recovery effort didn’t have a lot to do with them. Suburban voters–who had reacted against the Evangelical, Bush Republican Party–became much more focused on fiscal matters than cultural matters. All of them moved against the Democrats probably a good year before the 2010 election.

On Obama’s chances with Independent voters:

Non-college whites are very populist. And older, non-college-graduate seniors are more populist than any segment of the electorate. They’re nationalist, they’re anti-immigration, and more than that they’re anti-Wall Street. What the president has done with his new proposals is exactly the kind of thing these voters might respond to. The idea that millionaires and hedge-fund managers ought to be paying their fair share is music to their ears.

The interview also touches on Greenberg’s views on the myth of Independents being centrists, the likelihood of a third party candidate getting their votes in 2012 and the fact that they are often “less engaged and informed,” among other topics. Benson’s interview elicits an interesting perspective from a top political strategist.

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