Are Moderate Voters The Key To Presidential Victories?

From Charlie Cook at The NationalJournal:

So if Democrats can reliably count on winning the lion’s share of the votes of Democrats and liberals while Republicans can be equally assured of the support of Republicans and conservatives, the question that arises is whether it’s independents or moderates that are decisive.

Last year, while Romney won among the 29 percent of voters who identify themselves as independents by 5 points, 50 to 45 percent, he lost among the much larger group, the 41 percent who self-describe as moderates, by 15 points, 56 to 41 percent. Though congressional Republicans carried the independent vote by 7 points, they lost the moderate vote by 16 points. While conservatives certainly have bragging rights over liberals in terms of self-identification—a 10-point edge—the fact that Republicans do so badly among the largest group, moderates, is more important.

The point of all of this is not to be dismissive of the importance of independent voters and obsessed with moderates, but to show that both of those groups matter and that either party that ignores either of those sectors does so at its own peril.

As we come out of the year-end fiscal-cliff crisis, there are other fights over the next three months that look equally challenging, if not more so. And the public-opinion fight is more likely to be won by whichever party seems to offer the message of balance that appeals to these moderate voters, who are obviously neither liberal nor conservative ideologues, and who are more pragmatic than dogmatic.

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Analysis & Political Strategy