Truly Independent Voters Are Vanishing

Many voters identifying as "independent" actually are committed to one of the major parties


As Republicans sift through the wreckage of the presidential election and Democrats brace for the 2014 midterms, there is one clear point of agreement between them: Independent voters no longer decide elections.

In 2012, Mitt Romney became the first presidential candidate in recent history to decisively win the independent vote — yet just as decisively lose the election. Pollsters and campaign strategists — particularly Republicans — are scrambling to understand what happened — and more important, what it means for future campaign strategies.

Romney trounced Barack Obama with independents in five of the eight battleground states that Obama won, including all-important Ohio. In four of those states, Romney won the demographic by a healthy 10 percentage points. These numbers were reflected in most pre-election polls, giving Team Romney and Republicans overall a deluded confidence they had the race in the bag.