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The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents Hardcover – January 17, 2012
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Praise for The Swing Vote:
“The Swing Vote has useful observations…. [Linda Killian] traveled around the country interviewing hundreds of voters who are disaffected. There are lessons to be learned from her reporting.”
--The New York Review of Books
“A useful look at the current makeup and mood of America’s voters.”
--Kirkus Reviews on The Swing Vote
“Linda Killian helps us understand who the swing voters who decide elections are and what they are looking for. Killian's analysis provides a valuable guide on harnessing their collective energy into a new way of thinking about politics.”
---Eleanor Clift, contributor Newsweek and Daily Beast
“Linda Killian has written a lively and insightful book about the current state of American politics, melding the best skills of a journalist, a social scientist, a pollster, and a passionate citizen.…With Congress’s disapproval rating at an all-time high, and a ‘plague on both houses’ sentiment exploding in the country, it is hard to imagine a more timely book.”
---Norman J. Ornstein, author of The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track
“Linda Killian does a great job of not only examining the importance and historic role of those Independent and moderate swing voters who live between the partisan and ideological forty-yard lines, but she examines their mind-sets as well. What makes swing voters tick, what swings them and why? An understanding of swing voters leads to an understanding of the volatility and the turbulence that drove the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections and will likely drive 2012 as well.”
---Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report and political analyst for NBC News
Praise for The Freshmen: What Happened to the Republican Revolution?
“Linda Killian’s new and terrific book…is a strong, well-researched, and well-credited document on the failure of the seventy-three Republican freshmen in the class of ’94.”
“Killian’s prodigious research is evident on every information-packed page.”
---The Washington Post
About the Author
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1. on guns, taxes, abortion, the environment, unions, race and voter rights, the country has shifted dramatically RIGHT over the last 30 years.
2. The independent voter is largely a MYTH. Several FACTS have been ascertained by political scientists about "independent" voters over the last 30 years:
a. most of them are actually "closet" partisans, who love to maintain their Marlboro Man image, but actually vote very consistently for one party or the other.
b. the closer one gets to a true "scatter gun" voter who votes back and forth, the more one finds an uneducated, " fact challenged" voter, not the highly moral, brilliant voter the media has portrayed.
3. Like I said, the author needs to take a political science course. The remarkably intransigent and openly obstructionist strategy of the Republicans in Washington since Obama's election has been described as "asymetrical polarization", a term she has apparenty never heard, but should have. There is no "gridlock" in Washington: there is a Democratic party that has moved very very much to the middle, and a Republican party that has gone off the edge of the earth to the right.
In short, Killian is a dilettante.
Politics seems like a full-on contact sport these days, and, as Linda Killian points out in her excellent new book, The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents, the center is where all the action is. Yet somehow the center--the 40% of the body politic that claims to be moderate and/or independent--has been manipulated out of its political power, it's political voice. Through carefully crafted two-party machinations that have compounded over many years, many centrists are relegated to the sidelines when it comes to the important process of selecting party candidates or--as importantly--mounting opposition to the two-party status quo.
"If a minority group were getting shut out of full participation in the political process," Killian writes, "there would be a huge outcry. But Independent voters are far from a minority group. There are more of them that either Democrats or Republicans."
Beginning with a taxonomy of sorts, Killian takes us through the personal journeys of several moderates and independents in four parts of the country: New Hampshire, where live the NPR Republicans; Colorado, home of the Facebook Generation; Virginia, residence for the Starbucks Moms and Dads; and Ohio, home of the America First Democrats. All these, she says, are the middle, the center, the moderates, people who vote candidates and issues rather than party, who are most disgusted with our nation's rampant polarization, and who have almost no voice at all anymore.
In describing both average citizens and moderate politicians in these four swing states, Killian makes a strong case for fighting back against a system that limits (and, in some cases, completely disenfranchises) these voters when it counts most--during primaries. Her analysis--cogent and tight--becomes frightening when you realize how many millions and millions of independent voters would exercise their voices if only they could. Exacerbating that reaction is the knowledge that more and more moderates are either being forced out of office by primary challenges from extremists, or are choosing to leave politics because of the increasing dysfunction resulting from polarization. (Of note is the fact that one of the moderates Killian lauds, Olympia Snowe, has in fact chosen to resign for just this latter reason, a decision made after the release of Killian's book.)
Once Killian has covered the descriptive bases, she launches into an examination of very important questions and issues, trying to understand how the polarization impacts our country (and our day-to-day lives) and also how we, the moderate middle, can turn up the volume on our voices and concerns. She suggests active participation--and not just at election time--through organizations like CoffeePartyUSA and NoLabels, two of several groups that share the mission of empowering the moderate voices in our country. She also provides a "battle cry" for change, focusing on what each of us can do to make an impact.
"Voting is not enough," she writes. "Concerned citizens must get involved in civic life."
She is absolutely right. And her book--which makes the case that you and I have much more power than we know--is an important and timely read.