Just how important are those “swing voters”?

Alan Abramowitz recently published an excellent analysis of “swing voters” and their potential impact on the upcoming election. The key points:

  • Despite popular conceptions to the contrary, swing voters in swing states are rare: less than 10% of voters.
  • These swing voters are disproportionately white, female, and unenthusiastic toward Obama.
  • Demographically, these same voters are historically less likely to vote.
  • In contrast, currently unregistered voters have more favorable opinions toward Obama.
Taken together, it offers the following conclusions:

Despite the closeness of the presidential race, the Obama and Romney campaigns find themselves in very different strategic situations in the battleground states. For the Romney campaign, a strategy focused on persuading and mobilizing registered but undecided voters looks promising given the negative views of President Obama held by most swing voters. In contrast, for the Obama campaign, a strategy focused on mobilizing supporters who are not currently registered seems to hold more promise than one emphasizing persuasion of undecided voters.

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