In several battleground states, President Barack Obama is either tied within the margin of error or pulling ahead, which is getting a lot attention from the media. We get updates on every swing state there is. But here's one statistic we don't hear much about: Gallup reports that 22 percent of swing-state voters say they may still change their minds. Those one-in-five who say they might change their minds includes 10 percent who currently say they support Obama and 7 percent who support Romney. In swing states that are within the margin of error, that's huge. And we're not hearing much about that at all.
Here's something else we're not hearing much about: "swing" voters. Whatever happened to the all-important independent voters Obama won by a large margin in 2008—52 percent for Obama to 44 percent for McCain—and who make up a record 38 percent of the electorate? According to Pew Research's numbers this summer, only 32 percent of voters identified themselves as Democrats, and 24 percent Republicans. Nearly 4 in 10 voters now are independents, the largest margin ever.
There's not much news about horse-race numbers among independent voters, at least not in the last few months. I think if Obama were leading among independents, we'd be hearing all about them. Instead, we're hearing a lot of crickets chirping.
You have to look hard to find mentions of independents at all. If you dug deep into a CNN poll taken earlier this month of both registered and likely voters—which showed an overall lead of 52 percent for Obama to 46 percent for Romney—you'd find that Romney led Obama among likely independent voters by a whopping 14 points, 54 to 40 percent.
Columnist Dustin Hawkins at breitbart.com pointed out this week that in swing states Ohio and Florida, nearly every poll that showed Obama leading also showed that Romney leads among independents. Hawkins noted that Obama won both states in 2008 by small margins, mostly by winning independents.
In swing states like Ohio and Florida whose voters were polled by Gallup, a 20-point increase in Democratic enthusiasm made the headlines. This fact did not make the news: From June to September, the number of independents who are "extremely or very enthusiastic" about voting this year has similarly jumped 18 points, from 25 percent to 43 percent.
If you believe, as I do, that the central question in this election is whether to grow the government going forward or reform the government we have, then here's the most telling number of all: In Gallup's polling right after the Democratic convention, nearly two-thirds of independents said that government "is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses."
That's almost exactly the opposite of what two-thirds of Democrats said that government should do more.
That's a huge disconnect between the president and independent voters, and there's not a peep about it in the media. I don't think that's by accident.
- Read Sydney Finkelstein: What Obama and Romney Must Do to Win
- Read Susan Milligan: Mitt Romney Is Losing Because of the GOP’s Delusions
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