The X-Factor: Will there be an Independent candidate in 2008?

Al Rodgers diary "Sunday Talk: MUTINY!!" on the front page of DailyKos had one thing in it that did not make me feel too good about our future prospects. That is the LATimes/Bloomberg poll asking if the 2004 election would be held today, who would you vote for with people responding 49% Kerry and 39% Bush. If I'm not mistaken there were polls in 2004 that had better numbers for Kerry (if not for Bush). In such a poll Kerry should definitely be above 50%. That he's not worries me deeply and just goes to show how divided this country really is. It certainly doesn't bode well for any of our candidates in 2008.

So, here comes the X-Factor: Will there be an Independent candidate in 2008? I believe this to be an important question. Whoever he or she is, an independent run could either be a spoiler for Democrats or Republicans, maybe for both. I can already see the mainstream media touting such a candidate saying that if anyone could unite the country it would be an independent President.

I first thought of the possibility of an independent running in 2008 when there was some talk about Bloomberg considering a run several weeks ago. As of now, it looks very unlikely he would run. But if he wanted to I would believe him to be smart enough to know that he wouldn't stand a chance in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. The only choice he would then have would be an independent run.

I believe the only reason the United States hasn't seen an independent President in modern times is a very simple one: the people who ran either didn't stand a chance or were simply nuts. That a nutcase such as Ross Perot could garner 19% of the votes in 1992 with him dropping out and reentering the race, with a disastrous running mate makes you think that an Independent could actually win.

Just imagine a Bloomberg/Zinni ticket in 2008 and any candidate of ours but also any candidate of the Republicans could be in serious trouble. Imagine a race between John McCain and Hillary Clinton or one between George Allen and Russ Feingold. I could see a lot of registered independents as well as moderate Democrats and Republicans going for a serious independent ticket instead.

Who, in such a case would end up as President seems a gamble to me.

Don't paint me as a nutball. If it's not Bloomberg it might be someone else. I did a little search of diaries in the past four weeks. I couldn't find one entertaining any thoughts of an independent run in 08 while there were numerous about our (non)favourites for the nomination, be it Feingold or Clinton, Clark or Gore, Edwards or Richardson. Also a lot of thought on this site goes into the Republican field. McCain or Guiliani, Allen or Romney, Gingrich or Frist.

The American people just might just go for someone who represents parts of the Democrat and Republican platform and doesn't have to consider the "base" of their party. Someone who's candidacy wasn't hurt in a tough primary, someone who didn't bend his opinions in order to win the primaries. Cause, let's face it: as liberal and progressive as I am and as many if not most of you are, the country is not. Thankfully the country is also not as conservative, not as anti-abortion, not as anti-gays, not as pro-war as many Republicans would like it to be.

A strong independent candidate could also mean, that if a Democrat wins in 2008 that he or she might not have a mandate, especially if it's a threeway and no one garners more than 40% of the vote.

Looking beyond the midterms we have to be prepared not just for Karl Rove's favourite candidate, not just for McCain, Allen or whoever else but also for a Michael Bloomberg, an Anthony Zinni or whoever else might be out there. No one in 1992 was prepared for Perot and we were really lucky Clinton won, this time it might just turn out the other way.

Cross posted at DailyKos.

Tags: 2008, Al Gore, Anthony Zinni, Bill Clinton, Bill Frist, Bill Richardson, Democrat, Election, George Allen, George W Bush, Hillary Clinton, independent, John Edwards, John Kerry, John McCain, Michael Bloomberg, Mitt Romney, newt gingrich, president, Republican, Ross Perot, Rudy Guiliani, Russ Feingold, Wes Clark (all tags)


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