“What they’re really worried about is the country slipping. They’re not sure their family is going to reach the heights they expected. They’re relatively sure China will have the world’s leading economy in 15 years. They’re looking for someone to answer that.” – President Obama leads among ‘swing independents’, via Politico
The centrist obsessed organization comes up with some numbers on independents, but what’s most interest is the message they’re computing that gets through to independents, which is different than what moves Democrats, a group Obama already has locked down.
Fairness doesn’t move battleground independents. What moves them is the issue of opportunity. So, according to Third Way advice, Pres. Obama would be helped by stressing the issue of opportunity, rather than fairness.
The Politico analysis includes Lanae Erickson, the deputy director of Third Way’s social policy and politics program, who wrote the memo titled “Soccer Moms. Reagan Democrats. Rockefeller Republicans.” The framing and title grouping itself is an issue.
However, it’s interesting to see how a group of swing independents responded to “fairness” via “opportunity.” It goes to the Ronald Reagan adage of “are you better off today than you were four years ago?” and the partisan reaction to non-partisan voters who believe when Democrats talk about “fairness” they’re making a Democratic message, instead of an inclusive message of opportunity for all.
As you’ll see below, what’s confounding is that by a 62% margin, these battleground independents see themselves doing better than others, but they don’t perceive that advantage as unfairness to the “have nots,” shall we call them.
If Third Way polling and analysis is correct, however muddled their messaging and intent of the group itself, Mitt Romney has a decent opportunity to approach battleground independents with a message about opportunity, which is where he’s been drilling anyway.
“The worldview of independents differs from a lot of people in the Democratic establishment. They really don’t think the system is stacked against them,” said [Lanae] Erickson. “Messages that are aimed at people who feel like victims in a rigged system or are struggling day by day just to get by don’t resonate. Independents don’t think you’re talking about them.”
Independents strongly reject the idea that they are victims. About 60 percent of swing independents say America is divided between haves and have-nots, but a nearly identical number believe the American system is basically fair and that the deck is not stacked against them. Sixty-two percent say they’re “doing better than the average American.”
“A fairness message may appeal to the base, but independents think it’s strange to hear a fairness message coming out of Washington, which they perceive as the reason that things are unfair,” said Third Way co-founder Jim Kessler, who oversees the policy division.