- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sarah Palin’s emergence as a draw for voters has raised a question. Who are the independent and Libertarian voters going to vote for in November?

As with every presidential election, the independent and Libertarian voters can make or break a mainstream candidate because they represent 41 percent of the electorate. Right after the Republican convention, John McCain showed a 12 percent jump in support among independent voters, according to a Gallup poll. The increase was due in part to Mrs. Palin.

As of Sept. 17, Mr. McCain is up 7 percent over Barack Obama among independents, according to Gallup. Meanwhile, Rasmussen Reports shows that Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain are tied as of Sept. 18. Although Mr. Obama did enjoy a short-lived overall lead over Mr. McCain, according to Gallup. Independents have come toward Mr. McCain but, they are not locked into voting for him by way of Mrs. Palin.

The crowded field for the Republican nomination before the primary included Rep. Ron Paul, whose positions can become unsettling for Republicans as they deliberate a costly bailout for the financial industry. Mr. Paul’s voter appeal remains his hardline conservative economic stances and limited government, as well as his anti-war spending position. Are his stands signs that American politics are changing? Or, as pundits speculate, mere reflections of an advanced technology and Internet advertising campaign. Mr. Paul resigned his run for president as of June 12. But the Paul efforts continue via the Campaign for Liberty grass-roots organization. Thus, the independent and Libertarian movements are not done with this election. Indeed, former Rep. Bob Barr is the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president. And although Mr. Barr poses no serious threat to the races run by Messrs. McCain and Obama, Mr. Barr appeals to Libertarians, Republicans and the most important swing voters - independents.

A USA Today/Gallup poll (Sept. 15-16) says 66 percent of independents think that the economy is in recession or depression. That compares with only 39 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats. Democrats and independents share a frighteningly similar view on the matter. At the moment, it appears that the economy is going to have a bigger affect on independent voters than Mrs. Palin or a third-party candidate.

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