[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/05/art.teaparty.gi.jpg caption="Tea Party activists hit the Hill, arrested outside Pelosi's office."]
Tom Foreman | BIO
If there is one thing that unites Democratic and Republican elites in DC, beyond of course a deep disdain for ethics rules, it is a fundamental inability to understand independent voters. The most important trend worth watching in the election this week was the behavior of the independents, and it should have sent campaign gurus running into bunkers with armloads of canned goods.
Barack Obama was swept to victory by a shift of moderate and independent voters to the Democratic side one year ago. But this week, in Virginia and New Jersey, his independent horsepower bolted from the barn. Sixty percent or more, in each place, voted Republican.
The GOP crowed over their new found friends, and Dems quietly cursed the loss. But both parties remain largely blind to what is really happening. The independents who voted for Barack Obama did so because they believed he would make a good stab at fixing the economy. But now, with the deficit still soaring, mortgages still failing, and unemployment lines still growing, they are on the move again.
They were never Democrats. They are not Republicans now. They are the deciders. They are issues voters, personality voters, trend voters, but they are pointedly not Party voters. And that is the point. A Democratic friend said some years ago, “I’ve had it with independents. They should just make up their minds!” What she, and many partisans have trouble grasping is that they already have. Millions of independents have made up their minds that both parties (and with them, the far left and far right) have failed.
I’ve talked with thousands of these folks, the Militant Middle as I’ve always called them, and they have no interest in even a hint of loyalty to the parties which they see as outdated, mean-spirited and more concerned with their own political gains than the country’s progress. And just as the parties play voters against each other to win, the independents play the parties against each other to get what they want: Government accountability.
Their message to all elected officials is, “We’re in charge. Not you. Get something done, or get out.” And if the economy does not substantially improve by next fall, the Militant Middle will lay into Democratic and Republican incumbents alike with a vengeance.
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