The in­cred­ibly shrinking swing vote

at 06:30 AM ET, 04/18/2012

Billions of dollars — literally — will be spent between now and Nov. 6 in hopes of reelecting or defeating President Obama.


A poll worker in Madison, Miss., reaches out with an "I voted" sticker for a voter to put on his shirt Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Those billions will be directed at a tiny sliver of truly undecided voters, according to new polling data from the Pew Research Center.

Less than one in four registered voters described themselves as swing voters in the Pew poll, well below the 33 percent who said the same in a June 2008 Pew survey and consistent with the 21 percent who said they were truly undecided in June 2004 — the last time an incumbent president sought reelection.

Look deeper inside the Pew data and the number of people who are truly undecided is even smaller.

Of the 23 percent who called themselves undecided in the latest Pew poll, 9 percent lean toward Obama while 7 percent lean to Romney. That leaves just seven percent as purely without any opinion between Romney and Obama.

It’s not just Pew polling that shows an in­cred­ibly polarized electorate with a tiny number of undecideds. In Gallup’s first tracking poll of the general election, which was released Monday, Romney and Obama each took 90 percent of their respective party bases — a remarkable amount of party unity this early in a general election.

The simple fact is that — as we have written before — Obama is one of the most polarizing presidents ever. (In that, he has much in common with George W. Bush.) It’s not just loyal Democrats who love him, and base Republicans who loathe him. Even those who loosely identify with either party have been driven into their respective ideological camps by the last three-plus years.

That amount of polarization means that almost no amount of communications (read: TV ads) from campaigns and party committees will pry even loose partisans away from their respective sides.

And so, we are likely looking at an outlay of upwards of $2 billion (or more) on the somewhere between 7 and 12 percent of the electorate that is truly persuadable. If that’s you, get ready for a spending barrage.

Report: Rivera won’t face charges: Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) — and by extension, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — got a break Tuesday when the Miami Herald reported that Rivera won’t face criminal charges stemming from a state investigation into his finances.

The Herald reports that authorities will close the investigation because of “ambiguities in the state’s campaign finance laws” and a statute of limitations that prevents them from prosecuting cases related to expenses that are more than two years old.

Rivera was suspected of criminal and ethical wrongdoing that included falsifying financial disclosure reports and campaign fraud.

The news that he won’t be charged will also come as a relief to his close friend, Rubio, who is considered by many to be the odds-on favorite to be the GOP’s vice presidential nominee this year.

Rivera still faces investigations by the IRS and FBI into payments made by a dog track owner to a company owned by his mother, as well as a potentially difficult reelection bid, but Democrats’ initial top recruit against him dropped out after clashing with party leaders.

Fixbits:

Rick Santorum isn’t ready to throw his support behind Romney.

A Santorum fundraising mailer labeling Romney “frightening” lands in Iowa mailboxes a week after Santorum dropped out of the GOP race.

The Rick Perry-supporting pastor who suggest Mormonism is a cult has now endorsed Romney.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) offers up this not-so-helpful zinger about Romney: “Whether you’re liberal, whether you’re very conservative, you ought to be excited (about Romney), because he’s been on your side at one time or another.”

Rep. Connie Mack isn’t the only Florida GOP Senate candidate having some problems; so is former senator George LeMieux.

Bill Clinton lends a hand to Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in his reelection bid.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will announce today that he raised $900,000 in the first quarter and has $2.7 million cash on hand. He faces a rematch with businessman John Raese (R)

Washington state GOP governor candidate Rob McKenna distances himself from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).

Must-reads:

Angus King, Maine Independent Senate Candidate, Leaves People Guessing Over Caucus Affiliation” — Steve Peoples, AP

Romney begins to win over conservatives” — Steve Holland, Reuters

Romney tries to ‘bracket’ Obama, plans ‘prebuttal’ speech in Charlotte” — Philip Rucker, Washington Post

Why does Mitt Romney seem so stiff? He’s trying too hard, friends say.” — Jason Horowitz, Washington Post

 
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