I am ready in 2020 to make a declaration: I self-identify as a swing voter. While it is freeing to get that off my chest, the next emotion is dejection. Because neither party wants my vote.
As you know, I am a lifetime Republican for whom Trump is not my candidate. To the GOP this means I am a socialist snowflake who needs to get on the first boat back to Scandinavia. To the Democratic Party, it seems that I just don’t matter.
Because American politics grow continually more bizarre, I am heartened by flamboyant Democratic strategist James Carville on this issue (Previously, his sole contribution to my political viewpoint was serving as amazing parody fodder on SNL.)
In an interview with Vox, Carville sums up the Democrats’ problem right here: “We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments—talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party.”
Democrats, I could totally cross the aisle for you in November. But not in the face of this buffoonery.
As much as I would like this election to be ALL ABOUT ME, a new political forecaster on the scene thinks I am not alone as a voter with non-person status, and thinks the traditional method of consensus-building for undecided voters is obsolete. In a profile by POLITICO, Christopher Newport University professor Rachel Bitecofer presents a new model: It’s not changing people’s minds, it’s getting them to show up to vote in the first place.
She suggests candidates skip the handgrabbing at rallies and instead just check the voter lists. “It would be one thing if that county had 100,000 people in it who voted in 2012, and then it was the same 100,000 who voted in 2016, but that is not what is happening,” Bitecofer says. “The pool of who shows up changes.”
It’s about voter turnout (or voter suppression, depending on your candidate). Put another way, it’s a data game, not a doctrine game. Every campaign has access to voter lists, and successful ones mine the data as well as any Chinese hacker.
But independents are the fastest-growing voter group, you argue. That may be. However, if faced with two extreme candidates, independents are likely to vote for neither. This is why the door-to-door game is so crucial. It’s why get out the vote drives are everything. But know that the folks knocking on your door don’t care about what you think. They already know your voting history and are looking to make sure you are on the same page and plan to vote. They can even get lists of folks requesting absentee ballots and send you reminders. Just don’t believe for a minute that your opinion matters. It’s just one more reliable vote.
I have no idea what the solution is, mostly because I am on travel and just realized my editor’s deadline is, well, now. But also because our parties are offering more and more polarized views, with no end in sight.
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and a former Navy officer. She lives in the East Mountains north of I-40 with her family, where they run two head of dog, and one of cat.