In a stunning new poll 58% of voters said they would consider a moderate independent for President in 2024 if there is a rematch between Biden and Trump. A majority of Americans oppose either Biden or Trump being re-elected in 2024 (Biden-63%, Trump-55%).
This poll is consistent with a trend of fewer Americans claiming an affiliation with either the Democratic or Republican parties. Gallup has been asking people whether they consider themselves a Democrat, Republican or Independent since 2004. The percentage of American claiming affiliation with both parties and been steadily falling and those saying they are independent has been steadily growing.
Most of you know that I have become increasing disappointed in both political parties. Neither articulate a cohesive vision for governing the country. Instead, they increasingly have become the captives of special interests and the most ideologically extreme voices in their parties.
This poll comes on the heels of another intriguing development in the Utah U.S. Senate election this year. Mike Lee is the incumbent and is running for re-election. Evan McMullin, a former Republican and CIA operative has filed as independent and has been endorsed by the centrist Utah United Party. McMullin ran for President in 2016 as an independent and got 22% of the vote in Utah. He has pledged that if he is elected, he will not caucus with either party in the Senate.
Last Saturday, the Utah Democrats took a most unusual step. Their convention voted to not nominate a candidate for the race. As a result, there will be no Democrat on the ballot in November. In a three-way race, Lee would have likely won with a plurality of the vote with McMullin coming in second. Since there is no runoff, Lee’s plurality would be enough to return him to the Senate. But in a head-to-head race, Lee and McMullin are polling about even.
McMullin’s election to the U.S. Senate as an independent would be a political earthquake. We currently have two nominally independent senators in Bernie Sanders and Angus King. But both caucus with the Democrats and overwhelming vote with them.
But there are four senators, two from each side of the aisle (Romney, Murkowski, Sinema and Manchin) who are increasingly bucking their parties. The election of a true independent like McMullin to add to their number could be the beginning of the end of the duopoly’s grip on the Senate.
I believe that we are reaching some kind of tipping point in American politics. Everywhere I go people are frustrated and turned off by both parties. They are exhausted with the acrimony and dysfunction in our government at every level. That disaffection is reflected in poll results above.
There is an old saw about how people go bankrupt: gradually and then all of a sudden. The “all of a sudden” moment for our two incumbent parties may be at hand.