Ever since Romney became the presumptive GOP nominee, the poll numbers for him and Obama have been fairly static, not a lot of change. Even though the economy has regressed over the past 3 months, Obama has not lost much ground, if any. Been wondering why; Larry Sabato provides one possible answer. snippet: While it is fashionable for voters to call themselves independent - both in how they respond to surveys or in their voter registration - polling data tell us that most people who claim to be independent really are not. A Gallup survey earlier this year noted that 40% of those polled identified as independents, but after leaners toward one party or the other were weeded out, the percentage of real independents was only about 10%. That squares with a more recent report from Ipsos Clifford Young, who pegged independents as 11% of the likely voters in the upcoming election. Political science research suggests that the real proportion of independents in the November electorate will be even smaller, perhaps 5% to7%. Polarization is such a factor in American politics, particularly at the presidential level, that renowned election modeler Alan Abramowitz of Emory University - a senior contributor to our Crystal Ball newsletter - has factored it in to his highly accurate election prediction model. The polarization factor has reduced the advantage typically enjoyed by first-term incumbents, and explains why the recent reelection bids by Clinton in 1996 and Bush in 2004 were closer than fundamentals such as job approval and economic performance otherwise would have indicated. The same factor applies to first-term incumbent President Obama, and Abramowitzs model projects an achingly close contest. Thats not to say that all voters are unmovable. Clearly, some voters switched camps from 2004 to 2008, but the swingy part of the electorate is small, only a relative handful of every 100 voters. Most of the change from one quadrennium to another comes from variable turnout in the two partisan camps. Therefore, the key question this November will be less the destination of the hard-core independents than the relative enthusiasm of Democrats versus Republicans. One side will run up the score in Election Day turnout, and it will probably be just enough to tip our sixth modern White House squeaker. Larry J. Sabato's response to 'Open Mike - July 21-22, 2012' - The Arena | POLITICO.COM PS: Numbers I saw on Fox News suggest the repubs are more likely to support Romney than dems are for Obama. Somebody did a survey about it, the difference was like 58%-38%. Who knows what the truth is, but I'm guessing there'll be a lot of attention to keep your base energized. Dems have traditionally been good at getting out the vote; we'll see if that continues in about 3 months.