Social Policy & Politics Program | Memo

Obama's Coalition and Potential Future Swing Voters

by Michelle Diggles, Ph. D and Peter Brodnitz

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President Obama won a commanding reelection in November, stunning his opponent and a host of pundits. Moving forward, Democrats must find a way to hold this coalition together if they want to win in 2014 and beyond. Meanwhile, Republicans must retool and peel off enough Obama voters to be competitive not only at the national level but also in purple states. This memo analyzes the segment of the Obama Coalition that is not wedded to the Democratic Party and is potentially up-for-grabs in future elections: Future Swings.

Together with Peter Brodnitz of Benenson Strategy Group, Third Way conducted a survey of 800 Obama voters immediately after the election. We isolated a subgroup of voters called Future Swings—Obama supporters who say they are very or somewhat likely to vote Republican in the future and describe themselves as a moderate or a conservative. Future Swings composed 30% of the Obama Coalition.

In this memo, we offer 5 findings:

  1. Future Swings are not reliable members of the Democratic Coalition.
  2. Future Swings describe themselves as center-right.
  3. Future Swings are especially deficit-conscious and with the President on taxes on the wealthy.
  4. Future Swings are more skeptical of the positive impact of the government than are non-Swings.
  5. Future Swings are optimistic about opportunities to succeed.

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