Monday, September 17, 2012

What Makes a Swing State Swing?

The internet is abuzz today with reactions to the "secret" video of the "closed door" Romney fundraiser "leaked" to Mother Jones.  You can hear excerpts, with accompanying biased commentary by "journalist" David Corn, here.

Romney is distinguishing two types of Obama voters from 2008 -- those whom he has little chance of flipping and those -- a much smaller group -- who might be willing to vote for him if he allows them a way to still claim that their vote for Obama was not a mistake in 2008 but would be in 2012.  His triage seems callous, but it doesn't strike me as any worse than the President's rhetoric regarding people he doesn't expect to vote for him.

We have this notion that what needs to happen in the general election is for the candidates to move toward the political center to pick up the marginal voters.  That's a strategy, but it doesn't seem like it is the only viable strategy.  A candidate might instead choose to focus his energies on getting his base to turn out in higher numbers than his opponent's base, particularly in states that are closely contested.  The role of the swing voter is overrated.  What matters is total votes in swing states.

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