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Old 7th February 2020, 01:27 PM   #1
theprestige
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What is actually the deal with swing voters?

Are they voters who don't reliably vote the same party every time? Or are they voters who reliably vote the same party, but don't reliably turn out every time?

When you campaign in a swing state, are you trying to get the people who would vote for you to actually show up at the polls? Or are you trying to get the people who show up at the polls to vote for you over the other guy?
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Old 7th February 2020, 01:32 PM   #2
Segnosaur
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Are they voters who don't reliably vote the same party every time? Or are they voters who reliably vote the same party, but don't reliably turn out every time?

When you campaign in a swing state, are you trying to get the people who would vote for you to actually show up at the polls? Or are you trying to get the people who show up at the polls to vote for you over the other guy?
I would say yes. You need to do both of those things.

Also, if you can't convince someone to vote for you over the guy, at least convince them to stay home, either by showing "you're not too bad", or "the guy you want isn't that great".
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Old 7th February 2020, 01:58 PM   #3
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As far as I can see, it's "Who is going to tell me the sweetest lies?"

Favourite Robert Heinlein aphorism:

"Everybody gets the government the majority deserve."
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Old 7th February 2020, 02:19 PM   #4
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Okay we need to be very clear with terminology here.

"Swing voters" by some measure have to exist. My evidence for this is the fact that the primary party in power has ever changed. We had a Democratic President for 8 Years, then a Republican President for 8 Years, then a Democratic President for 8 Years, and then a Republican President for at least 4 years. If everyone's mind was made up that wouldn't happen. If was simple demographic shift we wouldn't see this kind of back and forth.

Sure there's like a... I dunno 70-80% maybe chunk of voters who are probably going to vote Democrat or Republican in 2020 regardless of anything that happens or could reasonable happen before then.

You have about 20% who are some level of fence sitter, running a spectrum from "Really strongly for one side but there's a chance something could sway me theoretically" to "Hell I don't think I'm gonna know who I'm voting for until I get in the booth and pull the lever."


What doesn't exist is an untapped pool of in the bag voters for either party who aren't already voting, at least that there is any way of reaching. What doesn't exist is some huge, untapped like "emergency reserve" of people who are as strongly in the bag for the Republicans or Democrats as that 70-80% I mentioned earlier but just haven't decided if they are going to vote yet and are going to vote if "X" happens if we restrict "X" to mean "Anything that's even reasonably worth discussing."
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Old 7th February 2020, 02:33 PM   #5
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I think they're the "I'm not very political but..."

Or even better "I'm not a Democrat or a Republican....I'm independent"
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Old 7th February 2020, 02:45 PM   #6
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I think the vast majority of "swing" voters are people who don't always show up but probably vote for the party when the do.

In terms of presidential elections, there does seem to have been an small but significant number of voters who actually switched sides last time around. I'm not sure they were that important though, as the turnout in general was down from the previous election. The, "I just want something different" vote seems to be growing.
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Old 7th February 2020, 02:50 PM   #7
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There are also swing voters who only swing between the mainstream (Dem/GOP) parties and the smaller parties - but never from mainstream party to other mainstream party.

People who might vote for the Dems in one election, and Greens or Socialist in another (but would never vote GOP, Constitutionalist or Libertarian).
People who might vote for the GOP in one election, Libertarian or Constitutionalist in another (but would never vote Dem, Green, or socialist).

I think those people get forgotten. It can make a difference.
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Old 7th February 2020, 02:55 PM   #8
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I suppose I'm a swing voter but probably not an exemplar. I tend to vote green in dem districts and libertarian in rep districts. I've only recently moved a place that might actually swing from blue to red to blue so, it didn't much matter before now.
Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Okay we need to be very clear with terminology here.

"Swing voters" by some measure have to exist. My evidence for this is the fact that the primary party in power has ever changed. We had a Democratic President for 8 Years, then a Republican President for 8 Years, then a Democratic President for 8 Years, and then a Republican President for at least 4 years. If everyone's mind was made up that wouldn't happen. If was simple demographic shift we wouldn't see this kind of back and forth.
That swing could be entirely due to folks who don't always show up. If the base is 45r/55d but 20 of those ds only show up half the time and not all of them at any given time, are they really swing voters?

Obviously those numbers are made but still.

Last edited by ahhell; 7th February 2020 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 7th February 2020, 03:00 PM   #9
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Those also the simple fact that states that are in the bag for Republicans or Democrats as is possible, i.e. the "Safely Blue" and "Safely Red" states on any electoral map, often have Senators, Representatives, Governors, etc, from the other party.

There's Republican Governors all over New England and Democratic Governors sprinkled throughout the heartland. Louisiana has gone safe Republican in the last 5 Presidential Elections but has a Democrat Governor for about 75% of that time

There's an X factor in there somewhere.
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Old 7th February 2020, 03:02 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by novaphile View Post
Favourite Robert Heinlein aphorism:

"Everybody gets the government the minority deserve."
FIFY.
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Old 7th February 2020, 03:18 PM   #11
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I am sure there exists research on this question (and I am further sure that results of such research have great variation).

Coming from a country (Germany) with a wholly different election system (where the more important votes are for parties or "lists" rather than persons, and where coalitions between two or more parties are usual), I present to you: Myself, an actual swing voter.

It has happened once that we had a communal and a federal election on the same day, where I got to cast 4 separate votes, and I spread them among 4 different parties:

* Federally, I was satisfied with the ruling coalition, and so I voted for the bigger party MP candidate for my district by name, ...
* ... and for the smaller party's list out of tactical considerations (to help them clear the "5% hurdle", a prerequisite to make it into parliament at all).
* Locally, the incumbent mayor was an embarrassment, so I voted for the candidate of the largest opposition party (who won and proved to be an embarrassment, too...), ...
* ... while for the town council, I voted for the smaller opposition party, because I rooted for their local core issues.

In later elections, I switched allegiance to parties several times, due to their evolutions, my own evolution, the personal character of relevant characters, or tactical calculations.

I see no reason why a life-long Republican should not vote for an acceptable Democrat because he considers Trump to be an abominable brute who does unspeakable damage to country and party.
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Old 7th February 2020, 03:32 PM   #12
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I was a born and bred Republican, party line voter, until sometime in the 1980's. I voted for Nixon, I voted for Ford. I think I may have voted third party as a protest in 1980 after the news media told me who won before I had a chance to vote.
Then I became a swing voter. I voted for more R's for governor than D's, and mixed up other tickets.
Now I wouldn't vote for a Republican for a position cleaning my septic tank. I'm sure there are some very decent people left in the party, but they are invisible among the morons. I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me.
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Old 7th February 2020, 03:40 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by novaphile View Post
As far as I can see, it's "Who is going to tell me the sweetest lies?"

Favourite Robert Heinlein aphorism:

"Everybody gets the government the majority deserve."
One of The Onion's "what do you think?" sections had the quote, "They say we get the government we deserve, but I don't remember knife-raping any retarded nuns."
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Old 7th February 2020, 03:54 PM   #14
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Always thought a swing voter was just more centrist? Like a Blue Dog that went Reagan Democrat?
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Old 7th February 2020, 04:03 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Always thought a swing voter was just more centrist? Like a Blue Dog that went Reagan Democrat?
Listen the problem with the "Centrist" boogeyman is that it pretends some singular, Left to Right, two dimensional spectrum of voters exists and that opinions (and the changing there of) can only be charted as movement along that line and that no opinion, issue you're particularly invested in for what ever reason,

So instead of "Person with wide range of opinions, some of which align with this party, some with that" people have turned the concept into a straw image of some wishy-washy middle ground person who doesn't have convictions or strong opinions and just drifts back and forth like a leaf in the wind.
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Old 7th February 2020, 04:08 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
What doesn't exist is an untapped pool of in the bag voters for either party who aren't already voting, at least that there is any way of reaching. What doesn't exist is some huge, untapped like "emergency reserve" of people who are as strongly in the bag for the Republicans or Democrats as that 70-80% I mentioned earlier but just haven't decided if they are going to vote yet and are going to vote if "X" happens if we restrict "X" to mean "Anything that's even reasonably worth discussing."
Disagree somewhat - I think young voters could be tapped into and they would *probably* lean to the left, but it seems kind of difficult to motivate this bloc. In the Vietnam era, they were pretty motivated.

For a period in the aughts young Latino people demonstrated quite a bit of political interest when bills were floated that would make being illegally in the U.S. a felony. Many of those protesters were not yet of voting age.

IMO things like the DREAM Act, gay/trans rights, AGW and school shootings should be drawing out progressive young people but I don't know if it's happening. There are quite a few young Trump fans out there, and conservative young people are probably more likely to vote than the liberal ones. Just a hunch and I hope I'm wrong.

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Old 7th February 2020, 04:15 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Are they voters who don't reliably vote the same party every time? Or are they voters who reliably vote the same party, but don't reliably turn out every time?

When you campaign in a swing state, are you trying to get the people who would vote for you to actually show up at the polls? Or are you trying to get the people who show up at the polls to vote for you over the other guy?
I am a swing voter. I vote for the party I think will do the best job. Voting is compulsory in Australia, but when I lived in Britain I voted every opportunity.

I can't speak for other swing voters.

In the USA the "get-out-and-vote" factor seems to be dominant though.
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Old 7th February 2020, 04:18 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Those also the simple fact that states that are in the bag for Republicans or Democrats as is possible, i.e. the "Safely Blue" and "Safely Red" states on any electoral map, often have Senators, Representatives, Governors, etc, from the other party.

There's Republican Governors all over New England and Democratic Governors sprinkled throughout the heartland. Louisiana has gone safe Republican in the last 5 Presidential Elections but has a Democrat Governor for about 75% of that time

There's an X factor in there somewhere.
My state legislature was always conservative even as Democrats were handily winning gubernatorial races. It may be that individual voters like to hedge their bets or prefer a divided government. On a purely local level party affiliation didn't seem to matter much; there were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats.

I like to think people don't like to be pigeonholed and honestly I think the left may be a bigger offender than the right in this regard. I have no data, it's just a general impression.
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Old 7th February 2020, 04:43 PM   #19
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My basic assumption is that we are a 40-20-40 nation. Forty percent will vote for the Republican no matter what, 40% will vote for the Democrat come hell or high water. It's the 20% in the middle who decide elections, and yes, some of them don't vote every election and some of them will vote Democrat one election and Republican the next. If they all vote the same way we get a landslide although it's been awhile since we had one of those. Maybe we are developing into a 45-10-45 nation.
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Old 7th February 2020, 05:24 PM   #20
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Back in my uni days... I read up a bit about voter behaviour and there were some strange ones...

There are cohorts who fall into the categories below.

Always vote against the incumbent.
Always vote according to the position of the person on the ballot paper (AKA the donkey vote).
Always vote the same way as their parent (or spouse).
Always vote the opposite way as their parent (or spouse).

The ones that disappointed me the most were the 'aspirational voters'.
These people vote against their best interests, in the belief that voting for the rich people's party will cause themselves to become rich.
(I usually refer to those people as cargo cultists i.e. "If I behave like a rich person I'll be one.")
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Old 7th February 2020, 05:49 PM   #21
Thermal
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
My basic assumption is that we are a 40-20-40 nation. Forty percent will vote for the Republican no matter what, 40% will vote for the Democrat come hell or high water. It's the 20% in the middle who decide elections, and yes, some of them don't vote every election and some of them will vote Democrat one election and Republican the next. If they all vote the same way we get a landslide although it's been awhile since we had one of those. Maybe we are developing into a 45-10-45 nation.
Probably true, except for that other half of eligible voters that can't be bothered
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Old 7th February 2020, 06:40 PM   #22
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There is no swing voter
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Old 7th February 2020, 06:53 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
I am sure there exists research on this question (and I am further sure that results of such research have great variation).

Coming from a country (Germany) with a wholly different election system (where the more important votes are for parties or "lists" rather than persons, and where coalitions between two or more parties are usual), I present to you: Myself, an actual swing voter.

It has happened once that we had a communal and a federal election on the same day, where I got to cast 4 separate votes, and I spread them among 4 different parties:

* Federally, I was satisfied with the ruling coalition, and so I voted for the bigger party MP candidate for my district by name, ...
* ... and for the smaller party's list out of tactical considerations (to help them clear the "5% hurdle", a prerequisite to make it into parliament at all).
* Locally, the incumbent mayor was an embarrassment, so I voted for the candidate of the largest opposition party (who won and proved to be an embarrassment, too...), ...
* ... while for the town council, I voted for the smaller opposition party, because I rooted for their local core issues.

In later elections, I switched allegiance to parties several times, due to their evolutions, my own evolution, the personal character of relevant characters, or tactical calculations.

I see no reason why a life-long Republican should not vote for an acceptable Democrat because he considers Trump to be an abominable brute who does unspeakable damage to country and party.
As I've stated innumerable amount of time here, this place can only see things from the perspective of a white person living in a white country.

Non-Whites vote for Democrats close to 85% of the time. It's a known strategy of Democrats to increase this number even further. This creates a political vacuum for the Republicans to fill. They increasingly pander (but never deliver) to "the middle class" (this means white people). As the country becomes more fragmented along racial lines, this leaves little opportunity for swing voters.


The same phenomenon happens in Brazil as whites voted for Balsanaro while blacks and other non-whites voted for his opponent. We see the early stages of this happening in the UK as the Tories had a big victory despite non-white Muslims voting for Labour about 90%.

"Democracy" in a multicultural country is simply a racial head count.

Last edited by Baylor; 7th February 2020 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 7th February 2020, 09:39 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
My basic assumption is that we are a 40-20-40 nation. Forty percent will vote for the Republican no matter what, 40% will vote for the Democrat come hell or high water. It's the 20% in the middle who decide elections, and yes, some of them don't vote every election and some of them will vote Democrat one election and Republican the next. If they all vote the same way we get a landslide although it's been awhile since we had one of those. Maybe we are developing into a 45-10-45 nation.
But the political parties only worry about the 0.001%, that handful of people who make the difference between winning and losing in a swing seat.

They literally have their names, addresses and phone numbers.
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Old 7th February 2020, 09:57 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
But the political parties only worry about the 0.001%, that handful of people who make the difference between winning and losing in a swing seat.

They literally have their names, addresses and phone numbers.
And I am referring specifically to the Presidential election here.
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Old 8th February 2020, 08:36 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post

An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter by David Freedlander

“If you want to win the election, you have to be able to frame your candidacy
in a way that reminds voters that Trump is an abnormality that must be excised,”
she said. “People always say in campaigns, ‘America’s future is on the ballot.’
Well this time you will have to convince them that it really is.”

Quite radical thinking on her part. And she may be right.

From a conventional point of view, Trump will spend billions of dollars on
his winning campaign strategy of driving anyone from the Republican Party
who's not whiter than white. Meanwhile the Democratic Party will step up
their game, close the gap in the popular vote between Clinton And Trump,
with will reasoned policies relevant to people's daily lives such as stopping
nuclear power, decriminalizing illegal immigration, college debt forgiveness,
and allowing voting by criminals in jails.

Here's the analysis applying these parenthetical parameters to the 2020 election.
I computed this last November 3 but couldn't get back to it because of problems.

2020 Election Democratic Party Republican Party Independent Parties Candidate Vote Totals
Biden 43,694,540 4,737,698 17,595,012 66,027,250
Trump 4,566,789 40,961,697 19,003,336 64,531,823
Others 2,530,625 3,194,996 7,968,449 13,694,070
Party Voter Totals 50,791,954 48,894,391 44,566,797 144,253,142

https://ropercenter.cornell.edu/how-groups-voted-2020
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Last edited by Solitaire; 8th February 2020 at 08:40 AM. Reason: I think there maybe a bug in the table somewhere.
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Old 8th February 2020, 09:38 AM   #27
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Whatchu want, u want numbers? U want charts? I know a guy.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features...dle-is-a-myth/
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Old 8th February 2020, 09:09 PM   #28
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There are plenty of "swing voters", but not much unites them. I wouldn't read too much into demographic stuff, for example.
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Old 9th February 2020, 07:35 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Allen773 View Post
There are plenty of "swing voters", but not much unites them. I wouldn't read too much into demographic stuff, for example.
And at the end of the day that's that's being said or indeed really can be said.

Yes there is some viable, probably fairly large, percentage of people who aren't going to reliably either vote or vote for one of the two major parties.

There's just not a practical way to reach out to them as a voting block because they don't have a central philosophy to sell anything to.

They all want someone who isn't either a mainstream Democrat or Republican, but beyond that what they do want is all over the map.

You have 30 people who you have to plan a dinner for. 10 want to go McDonalds, 10 want to go to Burger King, and in the last 10 you get 1 person each who wants to go to Wendys, Papa Johns, White Castle, Whataburger, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Chick-Fil-A, Arbys, and Panda Express.

Those 10 people just don't have the power the other two groups of 10 do.
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Old 9th February 2020, 08:24 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
You have 30 people who you have to plan a dinner for. 10 want to go McDonalds, 10 want to go to Burger King, and in the last 10 you get 1 person each who wants to go to Wendys, Papa Johns, White Castle, Whataburger, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Chick-Fil-A, Arbys, and Panda Express.
That's a really crappy dinner party.
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Old 9th February 2020, 08:36 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
...We had a Democratic President for 8 Years, then a Republican President for 8 Years, then a Democratic President for 8 Years, and then a Republican President for at least 4 years...
I've seen it theorized by political scientists that when it comes to the president, a sizable group of voters think it's in everyone's best interests to switch parties every eight years. That may explain, in a small way, the Obama voters who voted for Trump in 2016.

One of my co-workers is a 'swing voter,' not tied to any party. Bill is white collar, in management. Here's what he was telling us the other day:

Quote:
"You know what Trump has demonstrated? The presidency has become mostly irrelevant. Look, everyone knows Trump is a freaking idiot -- and I voted for him -- but the economy is doing okay, we're not at war. Everything goes along pretty much the same as usual. With a total moron at the controls!"

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Old 9th February 2020, 09:03 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
That's a really crappy dinner party.
Actually that is the dinner menu for the next Presidential Dinner.

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Old 9th February 2020, 12:41 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Solitaire View Post
From a conventional point of view, Trump will spend billions of dollars on
his winning campaign strategy of driving anyone from the Republican Party
who's not whiter than white.
Trump's making a big push for African-Americans. According to the exit polls for 2020, Trump improved on Romney when it came to Blacks, Asians, and Latinos. Of course, another way of looking at it is that Clinton was not as strong as Obama.

Between 2016 and 2020 there was 2018, where, according to analyst Charles Barkley, Trump did "turrible." I have not seen a break-down of those numbers. Rather than minorities, the Republican Party has been having a bigger problem keeping and attracting college grads.

Overall, their coalition is shrinking, but Republican voters disproportionately reside in states that benefit from Electoral College affirmative-action.
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Old 9th February 2020, 03:26 PM   #34
newyorkguy
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Originally Posted by newyorkguy View Post
...One of my co-workers is a 'swing voter,' not tied to any party. Bill is white collar, in management. Here's what he was telling us the other day:
Quote:
Everything goes along pretty much the same as usual. With a total moron at the controls!"
I don't necessarily agree with him. Except the part about having a total moron at the controls.

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Old 9th February 2020, 08:14 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
And at the end of the day that's that's being said or indeed really can be said.

Yes there is some viable, probably fairly large, percentage of people who aren't going to reliably either vote or vote for one of the two major parties.

There's just not a practical way to reach out to them as a voting block because they don't have a central philosophy to sell anything to.

They all want someone who isn't either a mainstream Democrat or Republican, but beyond that what they do want is all over the map.
Where are you getting that from. I am a swing voter and what I want is pretty coherent and consistent.

It is the political parties who are all over the place? Look at the McCain/Palin ticket.
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Old 9th February 2020, 08:17 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Where are you getting that from. I am a swing voter and what I want is pretty coherent and consistent
One swing voter. Not "swing voters as a coherent demographic."
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Old 9th February 2020, 10:50 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
One swing voter. Not "swing voters as a coherent demographic."
Well for example one of the things I look for is the ability to deliver a reliable, affordable, easy to use public transportation system or at least the closest approximation to this that any party is capable of delivering. I find it hard to believe that is a niche requirement.

Presumably the rusted-on voter is wants whatever transportation system their favourite party is going to provide, no matter how crappy it is.

That is the attitude I don't understand.
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Old 10th February 2020, 07:06 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
That's a really crappy dinner party.
I'm pretty sure its a children's sport team.
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Where are you getting that from. I am a swing voter and what I want is pretty coherent and consistent.

It is the political parties who are all over the place? Look at the McCain/Palin ticket.
Where is that coming from? The two articles linked to above. You aren't wrong about the lack of coherence of the two parties, what they do have going for them though is a bunch of voters who will always pull the lever for them regardless. They are big tent parties where, ideology is second to winning elections. The Libertarians and Greens are mostly ideologically consistent and ideology comes before winning. We see where that gets them.

Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Well for example one of the things I look for is the ability to deliver a reliable, affordable, easy to use public transportation system or at least the closest approximation to this that any party is capable of delivering. I find it hard to believe that is a niche requirement.

Presumably the rusted-on voter is wants whatever transportation system their favourite party is going to provide, no matter how crappy it is.

That is the attitude I don't understand.
You have completely missed the point. Nobody is saying that individual swing/moderate/independent voter's don't have a coherent ideology. What is being said is that almost none of those voters have the same ideology as the other voters. So, lets say you find the perfect politician who appeals to you, that politician is only going to appeal to a small subset of the non-aligned voters. As a result, the non-aligned voters don't have much pull because they are all pulling in different directions. This is in sharp contrast to the party voters. This is way there isn't any reason for polls to attempt to appeal to the middle, there's now way the can appeal to anything but a fraction of those voters. When also consider that most independents aren't actually independent, its a fraction of a fraction of voters that you might sway.

Take the public transportation, sure you aren't alone but there are probably just as many non-aligned voters who think we already waste enough money on public transit to little effect so why waste more. And of those that generally agree with our goal, how many agree with what ever method you would think best?

Also, there's a thing called false consensus bias, in which folks think the things they believe are more widely believed than they actually are.

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Old 10th February 2020, 07:27 AM   #39
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Old 10th February 2020, 07:45 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
And at the end of the day that's that's being said or indeed really can be said.

Yes there is some viable, probably fairly large, percentage of people who aren't going to reliably either vote or vote for one of the two major parties.

There's just not a practical way to reach out to them as a voting block because they don't have a central philosophy to sell anything to.

They all want someone who isn't either a mainstream Democrat or Republican, but beyond that what they do want is all over the map.

You have 30 people who you have to plan a dinner for. 10 want to go McDonalds, 10 want to go to Burger King, and in the last 10 you get 1 person each who wants to go to Wendys, Papa Johns, White Castle, Whataburger, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Chick-Fil-A, Arbys, and Panda Express.

Those 10 people just don't have the power the other two groups of 10 do.
Good one.
So, write off the ones who wish to get pizza, tacos, or roast beef, and try to pick up the three who at least want to go to a burger place.
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