THE SWING VOTE by Linda Killian


The Untapped Power of Independents
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The silent majority is neither Democratic nor Republican—and it’s ticked off.

If you feel disconnected from national politics, the chances are that you vote independent—which puts you in the majority, if the unheard one. So posits political analyst Killian (The Freshmen: What Happened to the Republican Revolution?, 1998) in this look at the current electorate. These independent and swing voters, she argues, are “the centrist voters who decide elections and represent more voters than those at the conservative and liberal ends of the spectrum.” Given the state of ideological gridlock, it is small wonder that these centrists, who are “fiscally conservative and socially tolerant,” might feel overlooked and ignored. Killian examines some of the curiosities of the political system: Why, for instance, does New Hampshire’s primary count so much, given that state’s relative lack of influence? The author proffers a couple of answers, one local (New Hampshire law requires its primary to be the first in the nation, so it gets perhaps undue attention) and one national (the New Hampshire primary is no longer a bellwether, given that the last three presidents all finished second). Why do candidates appeal to rural and small-town values when so few voters live in such places? How is it that the Tea Party electoral sweep of 2010 was able to occur? Killian also examines some well-worn notions and discovers them to obtain today: Voters may distrust and dislike Congress, for instance, but they tend to think their own representative is OK. In passing, the author also observes that whereas President Obama made political hay of a promise to heal the partisan rift in Washington, he has done little to act on it, such that independent voters in particular have been “disappointed in Obama’s presidential leadership”—with obvious implications for the upcoming election.

A useful look at the current makeup and mood of America’s voters.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-58177-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2011


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