So I'm sure that everyone here is familiar with the simplistic analysis about Independents, that they're all swing voters, that they're all somehow supporting something coherent, that they are, like their namesake, completely independent from either political party. Savvy political analysists have long understood that the number of truly Independent voters is a lot smaller than the self-identification numbers suggest, but that doesn't stop even the most savvy of political analysists from assuming that Independent = Moderate. Not only is this wrong, it's actually the case that even moderate voters are not the swing voters that the media makes them out to be.
For example, would it surprise you to learn that in 2010, when Republicans absolutely destroyed Democrats in the House, Democrats won moderates 55-43? Or maybe you'd be interested to learn that Blanche Lincoln, after losing the election to John Boozman by 21 points that she had won moderates by 14 points.
Independents, as one might expect, went very big for the Republicans, favoring them to the Democrats by a 56-37 point margin. This should serve as a strong reminder as to why Independents are not moderates and why moderates aren't necessarily swing voters.
To read the chart that's below the fold, the Independent/Moderate numbers are the percentages that Democratic candidates got, the comparison is how much more Democratic the moderate vote was compared to the Independent vote. The final number is how well the Democratic candidate did among moderates relative to Independents. The only races here are ones with exit poll data from 2010 (hence why DE-AL and VT-AL are part of the data).Also the Y and N show whether or not the Democratic candidate won the moderate vote. Also, in the case of FL-Sen, I combined Crist's numbers and Meeks's numbers together for purposes of this analysis. Alvin Greene's numbers in South Carolina are also his own, but it's also worth mentioning that 13% of the moderate vote went to the Green nominee, Tom Clemonts, meaning that the combined moderate vote in South Carolina went 53% against DeMint even as the vote went 63-37 for him.
And without further ado, the data: