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Obama and Romney must appeal to swingers

Who are independent voters and how can candidates get their vote?
Who are independent voters and how can candidates get their vote?

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With Barack Obama and Mitt Romney running nearly neck-and-neck at this juncture (the president has a slight lead in the polls), the 2012 presidential election may very well be decided by the ‘swing vote.’ In states that require voters to declare party affiliation, both Republican and Democratic enrollment has dropped slightly, while independent enrollment has increased.

This would seem to indicate that independents and decline-to-staters could make up close to a third of the electorate in November. They can be found all over the map, muddying the solid reds and blues we’ve gotten used to. With die-hard Dems and Republicans likely to cancel each other out, those voters without a country will be more important than ever.

The first question to ask might be, who are they? Linda Killian traveled the country interviewing independent voters, and has identified four types: “NPR Republicans,” the “Facebook Generation,” “Starbucks Moms and Dads” and “America First Democrats.”

Catchy monikers aside, who are these inscrutable, undeclared voters? What issues are most important to them? How do they differ, and where do they come together? If you're a swing voter, what can the candidates do to lasso your vote?


Linda Killian, author of “The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents” (St. Martin’s Press) and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars