In almost every competitive general election, the party that loses the contest has also lost independent voters. This is because most people (although less so in gubernatorial elections) vote strictly along party lines: the Democrat might be all but guaranteed 80 to 90 percent of the Democratic vote, and the Republican 80 to 90 percent of the Republican vote. Except in certain regions of the country where one or another party encompasses a particularly wide range of ideologies (such as NY-23′s Republicans or vestigial “Solid South” Democrats), it’s independents who swing the vote, since they represent the overwhelming majority of the votes which are up-for-grabs. This must necessarily be the case.
Here are some totally irrelevant recent polling numbers:
Romney lead among independents in NPR national poll: 51-39
Romney lead among independents in CBS/New York Times national poll: 51-39
Romney lead among independents in Pew national poll: 48-40
Romney lead among independents in Fox News national poll: 46-39