President Barack Obama won a second term by taking the majority of swing states. But a closer look at exit polling data shows Obama lost the independent vote in most of those states over the last four years. Independents, who do not align with one political party or another, make up a fast-growing and coveted voting bloc.
A new infographic from marketing technology company Cognitive Match shows Obama garnered less of the independent vote in 2012 than 2008 in eight of the nine battleground states: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire.
Obama won more of the independent vote in just one battleground state, North Carolina; the only swing state Obama lost to the GOP nominee.
Things looked very different for Obama in 2008, when independent voters came out in huge numbers to support him. But there were indications throughout the president's first term that these voters had become disenchanted. Halfway through Obama's first term, the Los Angeles Times reported that independent voters "have swung dramatically in the other direction and are now deeply dissatisfied with [Obama's] job performance, the country's direction and the overall state of American politics," citing a poll from the nonprofit center-right group, the Independent Women's Voice.
Just before Election Day, the Wall Street Journal reported those polling numbers had hardly changed, with Romney overwhelmingly leading among independent voters across the country. Republican pollster Bill McInteruff told the Journal the Democrats were "really flirting with trouble if you're losing independents by this margin."
That "trouble" for Obama was ultimately not enough to push the election for Romney. But future presidential candidates likely can't ignore independents, who make up one of the fastest-growing groups of the American electorate.
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