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Entries in Independent (6)

Wednesday
Jun132012

Maine Senate Race Scrambled by Strong Independent Candidate

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two candidates emerged victorious from a crowded field in Maine’s Senate primary on Tuesday. Republicans nominated Charlie Summers, Maine's secretary of state, from a group of six potential candidates, and Democrats nominated Cynthia Dill, a state senator from the South Portland area, from a group of four potential candidates.

But the front-runner is generally considered to be Angus King, a former governor who is running as an independent.

Republicans and Democrats have strong candidates in Summers and Dill. Summers, 52, is a commander in the U.S. Navy reserve who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has served as secretary of state since 2011, and he served as the state director for Olympia Snowe, the retiring Republican senator, whose seat he is looking to fill, for almost a decade. Snowe, however, has not yet committed to supporting her party’s nominee.

Dill, 47, is a lawyer and self-described progressive Democrat. She has served in the Maine legislature since 2006, and in the state Senate since 2011.

It is King, 68, who is viewed as having the advantage in the race. The two-term governor who is independently wealthy enjoys a significantly higher name recognition in the state and stronger finances.  King’s record does not fall squarely in line with either party -- he endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, backed Obama in 2008, and supported independent candidate Eliot Cutler in Maine’s gubernatorial race in 2010. But Maine is viewed as a more Democratic state, and therefore he is generally considered to be a more favorable candidate for Democrats.

Traditional congressional protocol dictates that if King wins the election, he will have to choose a party to caucus with in the Senate, or he’d have to forgo good committee assignments. King has refused to say which party he’d align himself with, and he’s even said that he’s considering the option of giving up committee assignments to maintain his independence. That middle ground has caused head-scratching in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have tried to tie King to the Democrats and paint Summers as a real independent, while Democrats have remained largely silent on the race. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which oversees Democratic Senate races, did not issue any statement congratulating Cynthia Dill on her victory like they usually do when a nominee emerges from a primary.

Although Maine is viewed as generally leaning towards Democrats, a Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won the state since part-time Kennebunkport resident George H.W. Bush in 1988.  The governor, Paul LePage, is Republican, and the state’s two senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, are Republican, although widely considered to be very moderate. And the state’s two representatives in the House are Democrats.

Political independence is a point of pride in the state, and so it is likely that King will be able to make it through the Senate race without committing to either party, if he so chooses, which is sure to make for a very unique race.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec212011

Poll: Challenges for Paul, Trump, Bloomberg in Third Party Candidacy

Alex Wong/Getty Images | ABC/Ida Mae Astute | The City of New York(NEW YORK) --  It won’t be easy for the three top-mentioned possibilities -- Ron Paul, Donald Trump and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- to undertake the task of mounting a third-party candidacy for president.  The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that each would have significant challenges were he to do so.

Americans divide evenly in basic favorable versus unfavorable views of Paul -- unchanged from last month -- and Paul faces serious questions even in his own party both on his personal qualifications and the policies he’d pursue if elected.

Trump, while more popular than Paul among Republicans, and the best known of the three, is the least popular overall.  More Americans view him unfavorably than favorably, by 48 percent to 40 percent.

Bloomberg is much less known -- 44 percent of Americans haven’t formed an opinion of him -- and, like Paul, gets just an even split among those who have. He’s most popular among liberal Democrats, a group that comprises only 12 percent of the public overall.

That’s not to say third-party candidates can’t have an impact in the upcoming election. In an ABC/Post poll released earlier this week, Mitt Romney and President Obama were dead even among registered voters, 47-47 percent. But when Paul was added as a theoretical independent candidate, he pulled 21 percent support, siphoned mostly from Romney, putting Obama 10 points ahead.

Third-party candidacies often arise in times of economic discontent, and that certainly applies to current times. In an expression of discontent with the major parties, more Americans have identified themselves as independents than as either Democrats or Republicans for nearly two-and-a-half years -- the longest run of its kind since ABC/Post polling started in 1981.

That said, an ABC/Post poll completed on Oct. 30 found interest in a nonparty candidate to be broad but not deep. Sixty-one percent responded favorably to the idea, but far fewer, 25 percent, endorsed it strongly.

Doing well takes a popular candidate, and as noted, Paul, Trump and Bloomberg all have challenges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Voters Flee Democratic Party in Key Swing States, Report Finds

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s uphill battle to re-election is getting steeper.

A report released Wednesday by the centrist think-tank Third Way showed that more than 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states have fled the Democratic Party since Obama won election in 2008.

“The numbers show that Democrats’ path to victory just got harder,” said Lanae Erickson, the report’s co-author.  “We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008.”

Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.

In eight states that will be must-wins in 2012 -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania -- Democrats lost 5.4 percent of their registered voters while Republicans lost 3.1 percent.  The number of independent voters in those states jumped 3.4 percent.

“People are frustrated and the way you tune out in American politics is that is you drop the label of the two parties,” said Steven Jarding, a Harvard public policy professor and Democratic campaign strategist.  “The danger for Obama in this is he is not only going to have to capture them but capture more of them because there are less Democratic voters.”

There will likely be more independent voters in the upcoming election than there has been in nearly 50 years, according to the report.  But Jarding argues that could actually help Obama, if he plays his cards right.

“On paper, it looks like, ‘Well, it’s just going to be bad for Obama,’ but a part of me says, ‘Bad in what sense?’  He’s proven that he can get independent voters,” Jarding said.

Obama snagged 52 percent of unaffiliated voters in 2008, but those independents flocked to Republicans in the 2010 midterms with 56 percent opting for a GOP candidate.  Between 2008 and 2010, there was a 27-point shift in which party independents chose.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

Poll: Democratic, Republican Parties Struggling for Popularity

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Favorable views of the Democratic Party have fallen to their lowest since the Reagan landslide of 1984.  Even fewer Americans see the Republican Party positively, and Americans by a 2-1 ratio say they’d welcome an independent alternative for president.

Sixty-one percent of people surveyed in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll respond positively to the idea of an independent running for president against the two major-party nominees, while 32 percent say no thanks.

The results of the poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, underscore the level of interest in alternatives, and the extent to which the two main parties are struggling for popularity a year from the 2012 election.  The public now divides 48 percent to 46 percent in favorable vs. unfavorable views of the Democratic Party.  It's even worse for the GOP: Fifty-three percent see it negatively, 40 percent favorably.

The Democratic Party’s rating is its lowest in polls since November 1984, days before Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election, when it hit 47 percent favorable.  The Republican Party is better off than its historic low in popularity -- 31 percent in 1998, upon the impeachment of Bill Clinton -- but still eight points below the Democrats according to that poll.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct052010

Third Party Candidate Gains Ground in Minnesota Governor's Race

Photo Courtesy - Tom Horner for Governor of Minnesota(WASHINGTON) -- In an election year dominated by polarized politics, candidates staking out the middle ground haven't gained much momentum with voters. But in Minnesota, an independent candidate for governor is bucking the trend.

Tom Horner, a 60-year-old public relations executive who's never held office, has overcome virtual obscurity among voters in recent weeks and surged in the polls to position himself as a viable third-party contender.

Although Horner trails Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer by double digits, his support has climbed steadily to around 17 percent of likely voters. Aides say the steady flow of campaign donations and endorsements from prominent state moderates are signs his candidacy is on the rise.

Polls show large numbers of Minnesota voters remain undecided about their choice for governor, and neither Dayton nor Emmer has broken out with a clear majority. The situation reflects moderate voters' relative distaste for their choices, experts say.

Independent candidates in the last two gubernatorial elections failed to gain traction with voters.

Those skeptical of Horner's chances say it will be more interesting to see from which opponent he draws more votes.

Minnesota is one of two states where the independent candidate for governor has been surging in the polls this year. Former Rhode Island Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee is building momentum to become his state's first independent governor.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Former GOP Senator Bucks the Trend in Rhode Island Gov. Race

Photo Courtesy - Chafee for Governor(WARWICK, R.I.) -- As Tea Party fervor spreads across the country, one former Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee, is looking to revitalize centrism and make history in his home state of Rhode Island by becoming the first independent governor in the state's history. Even though the state is overwhelmingly blue, only one of the last four governors has been a Democrat. Most polls show a neck-and-neck race between Democrat Frank Caprio and Chafee, considered to be the most liberal candidate on the ballot.

What Chafee has going for him is a strong base of support and the backing of a family that has a long history in Rhode Island politics. Chafee's father, John, a Republican, served both as governor and U.S. senator.

Chafee may be somewhat of a Republican refugee but he served more than seven years in the Senate and left with an approval rating of 63 percent, especially high for a losing incumbent. He's also separated himself from the pack with an unusual stance -- raise taxes. In a state with a staggering budget deficit and an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent, above the national average, Chafee's opponents have seized on his proposals. The former senator argues that an increase in sales tax wouldn't adversely impact economic growth.

Chafee quietly split from the Republican Party in 2007 after a loss to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. In a brutal primary and election, Chafee was painted as a Bush supporter, though he often diverged from his party, supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage. Chafee was the only GOP senator to vote against the Iraq war. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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