Could we have a flashback to 2000? Let’s hope not!
By: Joe Henderson – Columnist News Talk Florida
Labor Day used to be considered the “start” of the presidential election campaign but now it feels like the bell lap of a marathon.
The race for the White House has been non-stop for about two years – and that’s just with the stories that have made it into the news. The truth is, the race never stops.
You would think after all that time everyone would have a real handle on what’s going to happen, but of course we know that isn’t so. A month ago it looked like Hillary Clinton had put so much distance between herself and Donald Trump that the race essentially was over, but now polls show a much tighter contest.
Part of that is because Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green Party have combined to take about 15 percent of the vote. That has cut more into Clinton’s support than Trump’s, apparently.
The support for Johnson and Stein could be the most-watched aspect of this race from now until November.
It generally is conceded that the third-party candidacy of Ralph Nader was the difference in 2000 between Al Gore or George Bush becoming president.
As the magazine Political Science Quarterly noted then, “If Nader had not been on the ballot, Gore would have carried Florida and all of the other close states easily, giving him a comfortable electoral total of at least 292.”
But Nader was on the ballot, representing the Green Party.
There also is debate that Ross Perot’s third-party run in 1992 was a major factor in Bill Clinton’s victory over George H.W. Bush. The data has never been completely clear about that, but one thing is certain: Candidates who run neither as Republicans or Democrats have the potential to affect races that are hard to measure.
It generally is conceded this year that Johnson might be safe haven for Republicans who can’t stand the idea of voting for Trump. Liberals who are turned off by Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and her ethical lapses might see Stein as an acceptable alternative.
Would either one be enough to tip the election?
Hard to say just now. We may have a better handle on all that after the last of three debates is finished on Oct. 19.
Both major candidates have significant negatives in the minds of voters:
Clinton is seen as untrustworthy, while Trump’s penchant for outrageous and erroneous statements has many voters convinced he is unqualified for the job.
Of those two, Trump has the greater chance of changing voters’ minds. Those opposed or unsure about Clinton aren’t likely to suddenly see her as believable between now and Nov. 8. On the other hand, Trump will have those three debates and many other opportunities to show he actually could be a steady hand on the wheel.
Can he do that?
That’s just another unknown in this campaign that has seemingly lasted forever. Keep telling yourself: Only two months to go.