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Will Independents Vote GOP in 2012?, by David Brady and Douglas Rivers

Will Independents Vote GOP in 2012?, by David Brady and Douglas Rivers

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Published by Hoover Institution
Appeared in the Wall Street Journal January 10, 2012.
Appeared in the Wall Street Journal January 10, 2012.

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Published by: Hoover Institution on Jan 25, 2012
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04/06/2014

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   w   a    l    l   s   t   r   e   e   t    j   o   u   r   n   a    l   o   p    i   n    i   o   n
David Brady and Douglas Rivers
 
 
Will Independents Vote GOP In 2012? 
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
by David Brady and Douglas RiversJanuary 10, 2012More Americans now call themselves independents than Democrats or Republicans, andNew Hampshire, the site o Tuesday’s GOP primary, is no dierent. About 40% o GraniteState voters are not registered in either major political party, and our best estimate is thatthe share o independents nationally has grown to 42% rom 35% over the past three years. That 7% o the electorate is big enough to have changed the outcome o any o the last fvepresidential elections—and this is not necessarily good news or the GOP.Barack Obama carried independents by an eightpoint margin in the 2008 exit poll—andRepublicans carried them by a 19point margin in the 2010 midterms. Thus GOP candidatesmay be tempted to believe the independents’ disaection with the president that costDemocrats control o the House will lead inexorably to a Republican presidential victorythis year.Not so ast. In the frst place, Republicans benefted rom a low Democratic midtermturnout. According to exit polls, there were about equal numbers o Democratic andRepublican voters in the midterm, unlike 2008 when Democratic voters outnumberedRepublicans by seven percentage points (39% to 32%). Republicans can’t count on alow Democratic turnout in 2012 and there are still more registered Democrats thanRepublicans. To win in 2012, it’s good enough or Democrats to split the independent vote.Republicans need to carry a clear majority. And there are signifcant policy disagreementsbetween independents and the Republican base. Take, or example, a YouGov survey conducted on Dec. 22. Ater the economy (which allvoters said was their No. 1 concern), the next most important issues or Democrats areSocial Security, Medicare and the environment. For each, their preerence is or the ederalgovernment to do more. For Republicans, the next most important issues are the budgetdefcit, taxes and immigration and, or the frst two, they want the ederal government todo less.Independents, on the other hand, say that health care and education are more important. They tend to worry about what the ederal government does in each area, but unlike theRepublican base they are not opposed in principle to ederal action.On ObamaCare, or example, independents oppose repeal 40%33% while Republicansavor 62%23% and Democrats oppose 46%27%, according to a Nov. 12 YouGov survey.And in an Oct. 29 YouGov survey, independents opposed cutting ederal educationA WALL STREET JOURNAL OP-ED
Will Independents Vote GOP In 2012?

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