In his New York Times column, David Brooks cheers the rise of suburban independent voters in this week’s midterms elections, crediting them with Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia. Brooks has made a career out of singing thepraises of suburban Americans,all the while suggestingthat they are somewhat ignored. While liberals and conservatives have their own media machines and think tanks, Brooks writes:
Independents, who are the largest group in the electorate, don’t have any of this. They don’t have institutional affiliations. They don’t look to certain activist lobbies for guidance. There aren’t many commentators who come from an independent perspective.
If he’s talking about centrists, it doesn’t make muchsense; actually, middle-of-the-road think tanks tend to dominate the media discussion. (Perhaps Brooks has heard of Brookings?) But he tries to explain their significance this way:
The first thing to say is that this recession has hit the new suburbs hardest, exactly where independents are likely to live. According to a survey by the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, 76 percent of suburbanites say they or someone they know have lost a job in the past year.
While that does sound suspiciously like a think tank catering to, well, those think tank-less independents, are those numbers very alarming? An Ipsos/Reuters survey from June found that 80 percent of Americans knew someone who lost a job. A July Marist poll on New York state residentsfound that “82 percent of city voters and 79 percent of those in the suburbs” knew someone who’d lost a job in the past six months.Maybe Brooks’ suburbs aren’t so special after all.