As party politics have grown increasingly divided, more and more people are identifying themselves as independents. Thus, any candidate must win over the majority of independent voters in order to ensure victory in November. President Obama's State of the Union Address officially kicked his campaign into high gear, and independent voters seem to reacted positively to his message. A CNN poll shows that 84 percent of the people polled had a positive reaction to the speech. Of those 84 percent, a majority of 42 percent were independent voters. Three major reasons stand out as to why President Obama's message resonated with independents:
The president emphasized a move toward compromise between the two parties. However practical or impractical this may be is irrelevant, for at this point, support of the speech shows a reaction to what has been said, not necessarily done. One of the reasons why we have witnessed a rise in independent voters is because of party divide. The more extreme each party gets, the more voters they lose, so President Obama's "reaching across the aisle" is music to independent voters' ears as they have grown jaded and distrustful of any hard-lined and uncompromising stance.
The most pressing issue in America today is jobs. People are out of work and need help. The two parties have been seen as "playing politics" rather than getting things done to put Americans back to work. In fact, the president even bemoaned the detached nature of a Congress that can legally broker inside trading deals while many Americans worry where their next paycheck will come from. Again, this sort of rhetoric excites independent voters, who understand money's corrupting influence in both parties and wish to see more money in the hands of everyday working Americans, rather than in the hands of an increasingly rarified and wealthy Congress that does not work for the people.
3. Reference to the Military
The President's opening and closing with his analogy of bipartisan cooperation to the military was rhetorically brilliant. This one receives points in two ways: It exalts our military and their great accomplishments, and it gives an apt analogy of what bipartisan agreement can do for our country: accomplish a common goal. Independents, as well as most Americans for that matter, support our military and recognize their courage and heroism. For the president to honor them in his speech proves an ad populum approach that garners respect and admiration from the most extreme Democrat to the staunchest Republican, let alone independents who lean one way or the other. The move to bring the speech full circle, book ending it with his reference and analogy to the military, is a move to begin and end on the high note of what can be done if we work together, again emphasizing the bipartisanship that proves so effective for independents' approval.
Will this next year play out with Democrats and Republicans playing nice and reaching compromise to get things done in Washington? Probably not. But President Obama's address will certainly be on the minds of independent voters who hope so.
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