Stalking the Independent Voter

KFF Health Tracking Poll—September 2020

The 2020 Battleground States: Updates on the Swing Voters

Does Biden Need a Higher Gear? Some Democrats Think So

My first thought was, are there any Independents left? The polls say there are plenty, even at a time when the media plays up the extremes of partisanship. Gallup most recently found (July 30-August 12) that 26% of voters identified as Republicans, 31% as Democrats, and 41% as Independents. This would lead one to think the election might be much more unsettled than we are led to believe.

Where do they fall on the issues? The Kaiser Family Foundation has the most recent data (September 10). It found, unsurprisingly, that Independents were right in the middle on most questions. And, of course, “There is a strong partisan divide, with Republican voters prioritizing the economy followed by criminal justice and policing, and Democratic voters prioritizing coronavirus followed by race relations.”

According to this, the economy has displaced the virus as the most important issue. And yet the swing voters remain uncertain and unfocused. As everyone knows, the election will depend on a few battleground states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. There may be others, like Minnesota.

My take, for what it’s worth, is that the Biden campaign needs rapidly to get off its fixation on online media and ads and do more in-person events, sign-planting and door-knocking. They need to undertake an old style campaign even with the limitations the virus imposes. As dumb as they are, Trump’s rallies get media coverage. Biden does press conferences and small meetings. Kamala Harris and her speeches go mostly unnoticed. The Latino vote for Biden is precarious.

Trump’s hats and signs and posters get noticed. Where are Biden’s? To some, he seems to be hiding behind a mask. His demeanor and speech have improved, but to many he remains largely unknown. He doesn’t have much time to make up that deficit.

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