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Will independents select our 45th leader?

According to George Will, approximately 42 percent of the American electorate now consider themselves independents.

This glaring reality does not provide either of the established parties any margin for comfort. This is especially true in an election year when an outsider is preferable to an inside house cat, rather make that an in house donkey or elephant.

Attempting to analyze how this “chunk” of the voters will lean, 60 percent reportedly are not huge fans of HRC. That leaves two or possibly three alternatives beginning with the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders did best against Hillary in open primary states. As an example, in Wisconsin, he out polled her 72 percent to 28 percent among independents.

And in another open primary state, New Hampshire, he again ruled the roost with  the independents. Sanders would undoubtedly be a tougher challenger to Trump than Clinton as the polls are currently indicating.

Just this past week, the Libertarians selected their ticket consisting of two former Republican Governors, Gary Johnson of New Mexico along with his VP running mate, Bill Weld, Massachusetts’ 68th CEO. Not every Libertarian was sold on Weld as during his term as Massachusetts Governor (1991-97), gun control measures were tightened. The Libertarian Party is the only other party (alongside the Republicans and Democrats) that has ballot access in all 50 states.

Immediately following the Libertarian selections, national pollsters predicted that 10 percent of the November vote will go in their direction. Before jumping to the conclusion that this ticket of former Republican Governors will take away more votes from Trump, it is interesting to note that the two nominees began attacking Trump immediately upon getting their party’s nod. The anti Trump vote could get diluted quickly.

Returning to Sanders, his popularity rests mostly with millennials as do the Libertarians with voters under 35. It is this group that has the most dislike for Trump, ditto for Clinton. Therefore, the Libertarian ticket would seem to appeal to a high percentage of Sanders’ voters should Bernie be denied the Democrats’ nomination. And there is always the possibility that even another third party candidate could emerge which would confuse the issue even greater. However, Trump has proven already that he enjoys a crowded field…just ask any of the 16 Republicans now on the shelf of political history.

In the interim, Mrs. Clinton continues to have her own issues and is said to be carrying more baggage than a bellhop at one of the Donald’s luxury hotels. There is no Democrat like Hillary who would fire up the GOP base more. Setting the Inspector General’s report aside momentarily along with the ongoing FBI investigation, her “joined-at-the-hip” alliance with the Obama administration is not tracking well in her favor.

With 47 million Americans now classified as “in poverty,” the gap between rich and poor greatly widened over the past seven plus years. Blacks, Latinos and women have suffered disproportionally under the Democrats’ rule. Not good for Hillary. And some analysts are forecasting that a Clinton presidency will widen this ditch even more with rentals, housing prices and health care costs increasing significantly.

The economy typically is the primary issue that ultimately determines a voter’s selection regardless of age, gender or race, as all are impacted by the size of one’s wallet. How it all plays out will be like trying to solve a mystery without any clues.

The answer might just lie far away from Cleveland and Philadelphia. While the media is bending over backwards covering the two major party conventions, the real story (and answer) may actually reside in small town America. The voice of the independent-minded voters may never be louder as it could echo coast to coast this November.

Steve Vassallo is a contributing columnist and Oxford resident. He can be reached at sovassallo@gmail.com.