Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008 - (Page 52)
John Zogby These Voters Will Pick the President Unlike 2004, which was hyper-partisan, this election will be won in the center. T hid he independent voter so f h d ﬁned dtt far has deﬁ d the race for the White House in 2008, and there is no reason to believe that will change before November. Their key role begs the question: Who are these voters, and what kind of candidate do they support? In Iowa and New Hampshire, independents are much like the rest of the electorate.They are as likely to be women as men. They live in cities, suburbs and rural areas in roughly the same proportions as mere partisans. Their annual incomes are comparable to others in their state. But there are certain differences, and those differences have had an impact. In both states, independent voters were slightly less likely than others to have ﬁrmly chosen a candidate before the election.They also hovered around the middle of the ideological spectrum. Other Zogby polling of the American electorate last year gives us a clue as to why: Independents are more moderate because they do not hold strong opinions on political issues. When they do consume a meal of politics, they bypass spicy dishes and choose mild meals that won’t cause indigestion. You see that in their choices in Iowa and New Hampshire. Not coincidentally, what is clear thus far is that independents are showing up in large numbers, or did in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and they have given their support to candidates who represent change—not necessarily a radical or ideological change, but a change that will require both parties to work together. That’s a theme prominently voiced by Obama. Republican John McCain used the same message to ride to victory in New Hampshire. And while Mike Huckabee won Iowa, he won as much for his populist message and comforting demeanor as for his championing of a single big idea. I’ve been saying for more than a year that this election will be won in the center, meaning that it will be more of a traditional election, as opposed to 2004, which was hyper-partisan. Independents are a major force in this trend. Our statistics from Iowa and New Hampshire show that voters who registered without a party afﬁliation were far more likely to call themselves moderates. I I d t In Iowa, 39.5 percent of them placed 39 5 t f th ld themselves in that category, while just 25 percent of all voters did. In New Hampshire, that difference was even more pronounced, with 45.6 percent of independents calling themselves moderate, compared to 31 percent of all voters. In both states, independents were less likely to classify themselves as conservative, but were as likely to be liberal as everyone else. In Iowa, independents tended to be younger than the average voter—23.8 percent were between the ages of 18 and 29, as opposed to just 15.3 percent of the entire voting pool. (Far fewer—just 11.3 percent—were over 65, unlike 21.5 percent of total voters in the state.) In New Hampshire, independents were spread across the age spectrum in the same percentages as the average voter. Younger voters, including independents, helped put Obama over the top in Iowa, but they failed him in New Hampshire. There, in the Democratic race, it was women—who had favored Clinton early in the campaign but then peeled away to support the Illinois senator on caucus night—who came back to her in New Hampshire. By helping her win New Hampshire, they may have saved her campaign. Much was made of Obama’s efforts to bring many younger independent voters into the process with the lure that he practices a new kind of politics. What was unanticipated was that many New Hampshire independents would ﬁnd Clinton an attractive alternative. Between my ﬁnal tracking poll, which was released the day before the primary, and the primary itself, Clinton gained 8.8 percentage points among independents, according to exit polls. Obama held steady among the same group. As we move toward the general election, independents in state after state—each with a slightly different demographic—will make their voices heard.The candidate who most effectively responds to their political concerns is likely to come out ahead on Election Day. John Zogby is president and CEO of the polling ﬁrm Zogby International.You can post comments on political topics in the Zogby Forums at Zogby.com. 52 Politics February 2008
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008
Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008
What Happens When a Radio Station Opens Its Microphones to Everyone Running For President?
They're Baaaaack: Return of the '06 Ballot Measures
She's Got Their Vote: Ann Romney Has a Winning Message of Her Own
Movers & Shakers: Anita Dunn
What It's Like to Be: Robert Traynham
I Was a Political Hitman
Which Party Will Hispanics Call Home?
Reds & Blues: States in the Spotlight
High Road/Campaign Doc
Coming & Going: Who's Where
Quips & Slips
Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008