Terrence McCoy writes in the Atlantic:
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On a clear day in February 2001, a trim mid-career political analyst named Matthew Dowd landed in Washington, D.C., from Austin, Tex., and hurried into the White House for a meeting with Karl Rove. Inside a manila folder, he carried a sparsely-populated bar graph. The few numbers it had hit Rove like a bomb.
“Really?” Rove asked, snatching the document and glancing back at Dowd. “Man, this is a fundamental change.”
The truly independent voting bloc, Dowd’s data showed, had dissolved from one-fourth of the electorate in 1984 to just 7 percent. That meant the years of work leading up to the 2000 campaign and hundreds of millions of campaign dollars during it had focused on just 7 percent of voters — fewer than 8 million people. Everything next time, Dowd told Rove in his second-floor office, would have to be different.