Stuck in the Middle: Why the Independent Vote Isn't Worth Much in Tennessee

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On the cover of The City Paper this week is my story about the relatively low stakes of this election season in Tennessee, and more specifically, the plight of the independent voter here.

As far as the race for the White House is concerned, the political reality of the moment — that it’s been more than a decade since Tennessee was “too close to call” — has essentially cut the state’s independent voters out of the electoral process. Undecided voters still have a choice to make in November, it’s just that whatever they decide will be of little consequence to the electoral outcome.

But the Electoral College map isn’t the only one on which Tennessee political observers have already started to do some shading. After 2010, in which Republicans picked up two congressional seats and made dramatic gains in the state legislature, the state is the reddest it’s been in more than a century, and looks to remain that way for some time. Add to that the fact that this year’s vote will be the first election since redistricting — a process that, regardless of which party holds the pen, is carried out with the goal of creating reliable majorities for the party in power wherever possible — and the practical value of the Tennessee ballot, particularly in the hands of an independent voter, seems to shrink further.

Read the whole story here or find a CP box near you and pick up the dead-tree version.

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