As Independents Move Right, Virginia is Likely to Follow

Sick of inflated rhetoric in Washington, key voters unsurprisingly get conservative.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The Virginia governor's race will be held a week from tomorrow—see my column this week on the lessons it holds for the national parties—and the independents are a key factor in that race, as they are in the New Jersey governor's race. According to RealClearPolitics, a website that aggregates the latest news and polls, Americans' attitudes are "changing rapidly," and independent voters have "flipped negative," according to executive editor Tom Bevan. Here's an excerpt from the site:

The first gubernatorial races since Democrats took control of Washington, in New Jersey and Virginia, show voter angst and ire. Those races appear to be heading in different directions but are two sides of the same coin.

In Virginia—which swung Democrat first in 2006 to Jim Webb in his Senate race, then further to Obama in 2008—Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds by widening margins.

In New Jersey—which last went for a GOP presidential candidate in 1988—Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine averages about 40 percent. GOP challenger Chris Christie has fallen more than six points in two weeks. The beneficiary is independent Chris Daggett, winning double-digit support.

"What do these phenomena have in common? In two words: disillusionment and disgust," Villanova University political science professor Lara Brown told RealClear. Brown then pointed out that registered and likely voters, in particular, "are disillusioned and disgusted with both parties and their candidates, who seem to over-promise, under-deliver, ask for too much and take advantage of their positions."

RealClearPolitics then lurches into the obvious, as John McLaughlin used to say, with this breaking news: "Americans are worn out by inflated rhetoric and Washington insiders who just months ago said they were outsiders. Voters wonder what happened to candidates they elected to clean up Washington, stop partisan bickering and remove Wall Street titans who retained fat bonuses only because taxpayers bailed out their companies."

It's no wonder, then, that a new Gallup poll shows that independents are moving to the right across the board. More Americans now consider themselves conservatives than liberal by a 2-to-1 margin (40 percent vs. 20 percent) because so many independents now identify themselves as conservatives. This is narrowing the gap between Democrats and Republicans nationally, as more independents lean Republican, and according to Gallup, "that trend aligns with the recent changes in how independents perceive their own ideology and where they stand on some key issues."

My nominee for one of those key issues: out-of-control government spending.