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In the Valley

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The New York Times recently asked non-traditional sources to analyze various presidential battlegrounds. Inman Majors, a professor of English at James Madison University, discussed Virginia.

Majors cited the civility encountered in the college's environs. The Shenandoah's loveliness apparently encourages a state of grace that might benefit Virginia's more partisan precincts. The good professor describes running into a self-identified "independent with a conservative bent" at a picnic at a Montessori school. The man explained he plans to vote for John McCain.

Regarding political independents generally, Majors displays insight that would be welcome on cable, among the blogs, and even on the Sunday talk shows:

The gent's description of his politics "makes him one of those elusive independents that both campaigns seem to be courting, the voters who the pundits always say will decide the election. These folks are pretty hard to find. Like the man I met at the picnic, they may call themselves conservatives or libertarians (a unicorn comes to mind -- a mythic creature and ever hard to catch) but when it gets down to it, my hunch is that most 'independents' are Republicans or Democrats who voted the other side in exactly one previous election."

Party loyalty may have weakened, but we suspect Majors is right and that so-called independents often are not so independent as they are reputed to be -- by others or by themselves.

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