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David Steinberg


January 9, 2012 - 8:30 am

If the 63-seat House swing in 2010 — accompanied by the rise of the Tea Party and the obliteration of the Blue Dog/Lindsay Graham contingent — didn’t already make this abundantly clear, party affiliation or independent status is not sufficient information to capture the leanings of the electorate. Gallup has found that a record 40 percent of Americans identify as independents, which is interesting, but we can’t and shouldn’t draw responsible conclusions based on this data alone.

The $63 trillion in unfunded entitlement programs in the room? Whether the independents consider themselves to the left or right of either party, and Gallup’s follow-up “lean Democratic/lean Republican” question is still insufficient as a useful figure. Without clarification, Mitt and the GOP will never stop upholding “appeal to the center” as the all-important approach for the general, though this may be a useful tactic for the Democratic nominee.

What chunk of the electorate is “independent/right of GOP”? I wager this group comprises the majority of independents, a large enough group that “Republican” plusĀ ”independent/right of GOP” gets you to 51 percent.

“Independent/center”, or perhaps “independent/leans Democratic from the right” and “independent/leans GOP from the left”, is game-changer data which would require that media put a more accurate face on the electorate. And “independent/leans Democrat from the left” would be a useful figure for alerting Dem leadership of just how small Obama’s base is.

Marginally useful figures like “40 percent – independent” are why Rove and Carville still get to work in Washington. Better numbers trump “expert” opinion.

Why don’t we have these figures?

David Steinberg is the New York City Editor of PJ Media. Follow his tweets at @DavidSPJM.
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