Happy President's Day! Today we welcome a post from Douglas Blackmon, the new chair of the Miller Center's Forum program, who brings us a recap of this morning's Forum on the role of independent voters in the 2012 election. Blackmon is The Wall Street Journal’s Senior National Correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Slavery by Another Name."
Journalist and author Linda J. Killian told a snowy President's Day audience at the Miller Center that the cure for America's current bitter political theater is a return to the wisdom of "the center."
Discussing her new book, "The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents," Killian said 40 percent of U.S. voters consider themselves unaligned with either the Democratic or Republican Parties, and that these voters hold the key to restoring civility and common sense to U.S. politics. "The center is disappearing," Killian said. Half of those voters--20 percent of all--are completely disconnected from any party and up for grabs in the national election.
The cure for the polarized political discourse of our time, she said, is to understand that those voters now divide into four key blocs whose behavior may decide the presidential election this fall: "NPR Republicans," "The Facebook Generation," "Starbucks Moms and Dads," and "American First Democrats."
Each group has unique characteristics, she said, and falls on a spectrum of political values ranging from right of center to left. Each also has a natural geographic center of gravity in particular regions of the country: NPR Republicans in the northeast, where moderate Republicans have been driven from the GOP; the Facebook Generation in Colorado and other states where a dramatic influx of young voters has altered the political equation.