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“The Sunday Political Brunch”—August 21, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

 

We are still on the road this week with a visit to my old home of Providence, where - as elsewhere - there is turmoil among the voting public. Many here are dissatisfied with the two main Presidential choices and are thinking about third-party candidates, or about just staying home and not voting. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The Sanders Dilemma” – I have talked repeatedly with Bernie Sanders supporters, perhaps way more than those of any other candidate. I bet the count is over 100, but so far only four have told me they are definitely backing Hillary Clinton. Some may vote for Trump, and some will vote Green or Libertarian, but the largest group includes those who just may not vote at all. Providence City Councilman Wilbur Jennings, Jr., tells me: “Right now I’m undecided, although I am a die-hard Democrat. But I was a Sanders convention delegate, and right now I am trying to keep the revolution alive.” Jennings believes the nomination was unfairly taken from Sanders, but in the end says he might vote for Clinton, although he’s still not certain.

“Johnson/Weld” – Support for the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld – both former Republican Governors – remains solid. This week, I interviewed Rhode Island Libertarian leader Tony Jones, who has run for office under that party’s banner (photo above). I asked Jones what it means to be a Libertarian; and he said, “It’s fiscally conservative and socially cool.” Even my old friend, former State Senator Dawson Hodgson (R-RI), has bolted his party’s candidate, to endorse Libertarians Johnson/Weld. He’s hardly alone.

“What Say You, GOP?” – So after all of the turmoil in Campaign 2016, why is Donald Trump still viable despite derision from the left, and division from the right? Former West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart, who now runs the Trump campaign in the Mountain State, perhaps sums it up best. "At some point - Republicans and Democrats - it started to turn off in me in terms of those speeches, every year or every two years promising, 'I'm going to fix it, I'm going to fix it,' and nothing gets done. They do nothing. And so what I like about Donald Trump is that he's a guy who does it. He gets things done," Stuart said. In short, the unconventional candidate still has lots of appeal.

“The Common Bond” – So we’ve heard from a prominent Democrat, an ardent Libertarian, and a rebel Republican. Is there a common theme about voter anger and dissent this year? “I think there is such an anti-incumbent, anti-two party [theme], such a major dissatisfaction that actually this election cycle people are willing to think outside of the box and to think about third-party and independent candidates,” said Libertarian Tony Jones. Would a Democrat like Wilbur Jennings go third-party? “Well it looks like they are still possibilities, because I see they are out there working very hard. I see people telling me they are going to vote for the Libertarian candidate, because people just don’t know what to do. I’m all over the City of Providence and people say, ‘I don’t know who to vote for,’” Councilman Jennings said.

“What the Polls Say” – The Libertarian ticket has polled as high as 13 percent. Right now the Real Clear Politics composite poll has them at 8.6 percent. The Green Party’s Jill Steins is at 3.1 percent. So how does this help or hurt the two major parties? Well, in a head-to-head matchup Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 6 percentage points. When you factor in the Libertarian and Green party votes, Hillary Clinton’s lead over Trump shrinks slightly to 5.5 percent, so right now the third parties are not deal breakers. But if a third-party nominee reaches 15 percent in the polls, they will make the fall debate stage and that changes everything.

“Why All of This Matters” – Despite a rough three weeks since the conventions ended, I don’t think Trump is toast – not yet, anyway! He needs to get the management of his campaign on track after the departures of his first chief, Corey Lewandowski, and now his second chief, Paul Manafort. Bringing a radioactive Roger Ailes and the chief of the Brietbart News Network to the team may or may not work. But the public is mad, and a volatile electorate is very hard to predict. The Trump campaign is on oxygen, but it’s not on life support just yet.

Is your vote changing at all in Campaign 2016? Have you switched? Tell us by clicking the comment button at http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

 

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