I admit there are things at which I do not excel. I am competent at sports; I could kick for the Cowboys (who couldn’t?), but I’m no Drew Brees. Math is a frustration. I have little skill for cooking fish, and my juggling abilities are so rudimentary that they make Neanderthal Man look like a neurosurgeon.
But I have a knack for predicting political hurricanes long before traditional pundits even notice the clouds. Case in point, this week’s election in Massachusetts. For years, I have been beating the drum about what I feel will be the defining political characteristic of this decade: The rise of independent voters, angry at both parties. I call them the Militant Middle.
For all the things I’ve been wrong about (and there are plenty; just ask my wife), I’ve been right about this. The Militant Middle elected Barack Obama; furious at the Republicans for too much spending, for waging wars of dubious direction, and for letting the economy slip into free fall. And that same crowd, now fuming at the Dems for many of the same things, have just elected a Republican senator up in the Bay State.
Independents have been rising in power for more than 30 years. When Richard Nixon was president, in the early ’70s, they comprised only 19 percent of the electorate, compared to Democrats with 46 percent, and Republicans with 35 percent. Today, Independents cast a third of all votes in this country and more than that by some estimates.
What do they want? By their nature, there is no template. But they don’t like hard-core liberals or dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. They tend toward limited spending, generous social policies, and candidates who are more intent on solving problems than winning the next race.
That last item bedevils both parties, because they raise money by sending their bases flaming e-mails accusing the other side of everything from philandering to piracy.
They are convinced that is the key to winning.
Maybe with a half dozen more votes like Massachusetts, the parties may finally realize Independents don’t like that sort of thing; and the party bases are no longer strong enough to protect their candidates, when the Militant Middle gets mad.
– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360 ”/www.ac360.com and “Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull.”
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