Bryan Fischer
GOP strategists completely wrong about independents
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By Bryan Fischer
December 10, 2011

Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at "Focal Point"

ABC News, which naturally cares more about President Obama's re-election prospects than anything else, came out with a story yesterday lamenting that his climb back to the Oval Office is "getting steeper."

This is because of the staggering number of defections (825,000) from the Democratic Party in crucial swing states since 2008, representing an overall 5.4 percent drop.

But Republicans have equal reason for concern, since their registration has slumped 3.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of independents has jumped 3.4 percent in those states, and the pundits ABC quotes predict that these independents will determine the outcome of the 2012 election.

ABC notes that 56 percent of independents voted for Republicans in the landslide, earth-shattering election of 2010. Why? Because they were looking for a more conservative voice, not a less conservative one.

Perhaps the major mistake GOP strategists make is to assume that all of the "independents" lie philosophically somewhere between the "conservative" GOP and the "liberal" Democratic Party. So their entire election strategy is to convince GOP candidates to slide toward the center to pick them up.

But they are certainly wrong. Not all independents by a long stretch are to the left of the GOP. Many of them are to the right of the GOP, frustrated with the GOP for not being conservative enough. They've had it with the Republican Party since it seems to have no genuine allegiance whatsoever to the principles enshrined in its own platform.

Many have left the GOP because it is no longer conservative enough to speak for them.

They are fed up to here with blue-blood, country club, ruling class Republicans who are little different than the liberal politicians they despise. I hear from them almost every day on my radio program.

If this analysis is true — and I am convinced it is — then the GOP is shooting itself in the kneecap by believing it must run to the center by selecting moderate candidates. Such candidates are creating even more distance between the party and the conservative base in America.

The further toward the center establishment Republicans try to pull their candidates, the further away they draw from grassroots Americans, the more they endanger the future viability of their own party, and the more they increase the chances of a GOP-destroying third party bid backed by conservative independents.

The vast majority of these conservative independents believe in virtually every principle articulated in the Republican Party platform. They're just looking for candidates who actually believe and stand for what the GOP is supposed to believe and stand for. If the GOP wants to pull these disaffected conservatives back into the fold, the way to do it is to run toward conservative principles, not away from them.



Excerpts from the ABC piece (emphasis mine):

A report released today by the centrist think-tank Third Way showed that more than 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states have fled the Democratic Party since Obama won election in 2008.

"The numbers show that Democrats' path to victory just got harder," said Lanae Erickson, the report's co-author. "We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008."

Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.

In eight states that will be must-wins in 2012 — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — Democrats lost 5.4 percent of their registered voters while Republicans lost 3.1 percent. The number of independent voters in those states jumped 3.4 percent.

"People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties," said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist. "The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters."

There will likely be more independent voters in the upcoming election than there has been in nearly 50 years, according to the report. But Jarding argues that could actually help Obama, if he plays his cards right.

"On paper, it looks like, 'Well, it's just going to be bad for Obama,' but a part of me says, 'Bad in what sense?' He's proven that he can get independent voters," Jarding said.

Obama snagged 52 percent of unaffiliated voters in 2008, but those independents flocked to Republicans in the 2010 midterms with 56 percent opting for a GOP candidate. Between 2008 and 2010, there was a 27-point shift in which party independents chose.

"Independent voters
have been the deciding factor in the last two major elections," said Omar Ali, the national spokesman for IndependentVoting.org. "And they are going to, more than likely, determine the 2012 presidential election."


(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer

 

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