The swinger voter in the 2012 elections

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Winning politics is often about identifying and mobilizing the swing voter. But in light of allegations of Newt Gingrich’s desire for an open marriage, maybe candidates should be reaching out for the swinger voters. What do we know about them?

In 1992 while stories of candidate Bill Clinton surfaced about an extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers, I published “Expose Yourself to Politics,” documenting what we know about voter political orientations and sexual activity. In general, the more sexually active, the less likely to vote. No surprise here! But what do we know today about the swinger voter?

Examining the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) data from 1972 to 2010, here is what we know.

Among individuals who identify themselves as a strong Democrat, 9% have had more than one sex partner in the last year. This compares to 6.4% rate for strong Republicans. Among those who consider themselves regular Democrats, it is 8%, and for regular Republican 9.8%. Slightly more Democrats have multiple partners than the Republicans. Conversely, more Republicans have had no sexual partners in the last year, compared to Democrats. This might tell us something about why the GOP is more likely to turn out than Democrats.

But now let’s get to the critical question about swinger voters. Among strong Democrats, 16% claim to have had an extramarital affair compared to 9.4% of strong Republicans. Among regular Democrats, it is 18.2% and for regular Republicans, it is 15.9%. For independents, the percentage is 15.7%

According to NORC survey results, 12.5% of the population admits to being unfaithful. The promiscuous are not an insignificant voting bloc, especially when 73.3% of them claimed to have voted (compared to 74.3% who did not have an affair). Capturing nearly 13% of the population is a great way to begin to build a winning coalition.

But what if some swingers, as noted above, are hardcore partisans in that they may personally stray but politically remain faithful? Of the 12.5% who are personally unfaithful, nearly 16% claim to be political independents. Alas these individuals are the true swinger voters and the voting outcome of these few individuals comprising approximately 2% of the population could very well determine who wins in 2012. The question that remains then is what are the hot bottom issues that appeal to these voters? I look forward to answers in 2012.