The Plank

Clinton V. Obama On Swing Voters, Epilogue


OK, this is my last word on the great swing voter debate, which I inadvertently started yesterday.  Actually, it's not so much my word as John Judis' word, as published in the online pages of the Guardian.  In a new article, he and frequent collaborator Ruy Teixeira break down the independent vote. It's worth reading in full, but this paragraph--about the preferences of independent voters in New Hampshire -- really caught my attention:

Even when Hillary Clinton was well ahead in the polls, these voters
preferred Barack Obama. In the most recent poll, they favour Obama over
Clinton by two-to-one (28% to 14%) and give former North Carolina
senator John Edwards, who is also running against the "special
interests", 19%. They clearly identify Clinton with Washington
corruption and special interests. Asked who is the "most trustworthy"
of the candidates, 23% of independents favour Obama, 21% favour
Edwards, and only 6% favour Clinton.

In his Plank item yesterday, John said he was still worried about Obama's ability to win over the white working class, particularly in the South.  So am I.  But this Guardian piece makes a pretty strong case that my colleagues were basically right about the even greater struggles Clinton would face attracting swing voters. I still wouldn't vote for a candidate based on electability -- particularly since the appeal Obama is using to win these voters raises serious substantive worries--but it's hard to dismiss poll findings like this.

--Jonathan Cohn

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