The Mystical Swing Voter


I’m not apolitical, merely resting quietly as I die on the inside, but I do occasionally read my favorite American politics site, Politico, that great juicy jewel of the polititrash sphere. Today’s read was An Unsettling New Theory: There is no Swing Voter, which is a magazine piece about political scientist Rachel Bitecofer, who argues elections are largely determined by turnout and turnout can dramatically change between elections. This would mean much of the current American political analysis cottage industry is bubkes, an idea I find intensely gratifying.

My patience for political analysis has dropped substantially since 2016. I’m still bitter about legions of journalists tripping over themselves to blame their readership, of all people, for their colossal failings while apparently learning nothing in the process. Every time I look at any sort of political reporting or analysis or opinion it is with a cynical and suspicious eye. Who does this writer truly serve, or think they serve?

Bitecofer’s perspective interests me because I have always found the concept of the swing voter confusing and counterintuitive. There is allegedly a large American voting bloc that voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016, but I find that difficult to process. I have never, in my life, talked to anyone who thinks or votes this way. I can only imagine someone who doesn’t care about politics doing this, and in my experience people who don’t care about politics don’t vote. I concede that anecdotal evidence is worthless, but I’m a writer and the anecdotal is my business so you’ll have to forgive my foibles. The people who place so much power in the hands of the strange and mythical swing voter are the same people I’ve come to distrust, not because I think they are deliberately lying to me, but because I believe they are intellectually compromised and thus lie to themselves. It’s not an easy knot to untangle.

Also, Ms. Bitecofer has a nameplate on her desk that says, “I came to slay, bitch,” and I respect that. The nameplate alone gets my vote. I guess that goes to show how fickle a voter can be.