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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- June 26, 2016

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – Last week we spoke of third-party candidates, and I don’t think we can stop at one. There are more potential spoilers this week. I also mentioned a couple of weeks ago that unforeseen issues could be spoilers in Campaign 2016, and we’ve had some of them, too, this week! Let’s “brunch” on all of this:

“Green is Organic” – Jill Stein, M.D., the Green Party Presidential nominee has been polling anywhere from three to seven percent in the past month (photo above). As mentioned last week, the Libertarian Party has been polling anywhere from four to eleven percent. I make no presumptions about either the Green or Libertarian Party winning the White House, but - collectively - if they poll in double digits, it could cost either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump the Presidency. Third-party candidates “pull” votes from others; they don’t “push” the public to an alternative candidate. That’s important to remember.

“High Profile” – Wednesday night, CNN hosted a Libertarian town hall forum, with the ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld. The audience reached almost one million viewers on CNN, much higher than normal programming. One third of the audience was in the key 25-to-54 age demographic, which includes a lot of millennials. By and large, these are the young, disaffected voters who supported Bernie Sanders in droves over Hillary Clinton. Will they vote Trump, Johnson, or Stein? It remains to be seen, but many have no taste for Mrs. Clinton. This could be a huge factor come November.

“’Sincere’ Analysis” – It’s amazing the connections you make in a lifetime of covering and dissecting politics. (My own lifelong fascination with politics began in 1963, when I was four and a half years old, on the heels of President Kennedy's assassination.) One of my most astute classmates at Marquette University High School – Class of 1977 – was Rick Sincere, who later became Chairman of the Virginia Libertarian Party. We’ve chatted a bit in the last week.

“The Libertarian Presidential and Vice-presidential candidates complement each other and stand in stark contrast to their Democratic and Republican opponents. Johnson, a triathlete who has climbed Mount Everest, is warm and unassuming, unlike the abrasive Donald Trump and chilly Hillary Clinton,” wrote Sincere. Interesting insight!

“Looking” – Last week I pointed out a Monmouth University Poll showing Libertarian Gary Johnson at 11 percent on March 24, 2016. Yes, maybe it’s “pie in the sky,” but some newer polls suggest there is something significant going on. The latest Real Clear Politics Composite Poll has it 42 percent Clinton, 37 percent Trump, 7 percent Johnson, and 5 percent Stein. That leaves 9 percent undecided. Third parties are showing strength.

“Immigration Ruling” – This week, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively blocked President Obama’s Executive Order on immigration, essentially defeating his efforts to allow four million illegal immigrants to remain in this country. Hillary Clinton criticized the high-court ruling, while Donald Trump called the Obama immigration plan a “fantasy.” The battle lines are now drawn on one of the “Top Three” campaign issues in this election cycle.

“Sit-In” – Another issue that has cropped up is gun control in the wake of the Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando. Representative John Lewis (D-GA) – a civil rights icon whom I have interviewed many times over the years – staged a sit-in with Democratic colleagues on the House floor. After two days, the protest faded, but the issue will live on. The dimensions are fascinating, as a pro-gun-control faction takes on gun-rights defenders - this, after an apparently Islamic-inspired, anti-gay attack in Orlando. What will a traditionally Democratic constituency have to say in November? And will the Second Amendment have greater appeal to an LGBT community wanting to defend itself?

“GB leaves EU” – The people of Great Britain have voted to exit the European Union. World financial markets – including the Dow Jones in the U.S. – plummeted. Are we on the brink of another world financial turmoil? I ask because a few weeks ago I was talking about how global financial instability could turn Campaign 2016. I’ve just mentioned three issues that were not on anyone’s radar screen on June 1, just over three weeks ago. Political fame and fortune can change in a flash, like a bolt of lightning.

“Why All of This Matters” – The electorate is volatile! This race is anyone’s to win; and potential spoilers abound – whether they be candidates or issues that suddenly crop up. This race has a lot of wild cards, and should be assessed with them in mind!

“Prayers for West Virginia” – Politics seems petty and small after 23 West Virginians lost their lives in massive flooding this week. No matter whom we elect as our leaders, they are tasked with helping us all after natural disasters. Please send prayers; and if you are inclined to make donations to various relief efforts, you can find more at www.TriStateUpdate.com.

As always, your comments on all topics are welcome at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

“The Sunday Political Brunch” – June 19, 2016

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – One of my loyal readers (where we are syndicated at www.GoLocalProv.com) suggested that I write about viable third party candidates this year, especially the Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld. This reader literally read my mind because I had intended that column for this week, so let’s “brunch” on that:

“That’s the Ticket” – Former Governor Gary Johnson (R-NM) and former Governor William Weld (R-MA) are formidable Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees for the Libertarian Party. Johnson was chief executive of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, and Weld was chief executive of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. Weld was also U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts for most of the Reagan administration; was a U.S. Senate nominee; and was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton to be Ambassador to Mexico, though he was never confirmed. These candidates' combined resumes are impressive.

“The Poll” – Everyone is asking "Is the Libertarian Party ticket really viable this year?" Well, a poll released from Monmouth University on March 24 suggests that it is. Hillary Clinton led the three-way race at 42 percent, followed by Donald Trump at 34 percent and Gary Johnson at 11 percent. The last third-party candidate to poll in double digits was Ross Perot in 1992. Gary Johnson is pulling voters from somewhere.

“Three’s a Crowd” – We have seen prominent third-party efforts in 1960 with Harry Byrd (I-VA), who won 15 Electoral College votes with just .42 percent of the popular vote; Governor George Wallace (D-AL) in 1968 who won 46 Electoral votes, with 13.5 percent of the popular vote; Rep. John Anderson, (I-IL) in 1980 won 7 percent of the vote, but no Electoral votes; Texas businessman Ross Perot in 1992, with no electoral votes, but 19 percent of the popular vote; Perot again in 1996 with 9 percent of the popular vote, but no Electoral votes; and Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader in 2000, with 2.8 percent of the popular vote, but no Electoral College votes.

“Dissatisfaction” – I still say that the key to winning this election is tapping into the angry, frustrated, disaffected voters on both sides of the aisle. For all their ideological differences, Trump and Sanders have each amassed support among people who are fed up with the political process and the way our government is run. The public did not like Republican insider Jeb Bush, and they aren’t really giving a group hug to Democratic insider nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Whom It Helps/Hurts?”—The Monmouth Poll is fascinating, as more recent polls show Clinton and Trump in a dead heat. Such a wide gap in the March poll suggests that the Libertarian ticket is co-opting more Republicans than Democrats; but, again, that poll was almost three months ago. Bernie Sanders has many supporters who are more closely aligned with libertarianism than with the Democratic Party. Many of Sanders’ supporters say they would rather vote for Trump than Clinton, but that remains to be seen.

“What is Libertarianism” – I used to view politics as a spectrum, with a straight line pitting ultra-liberals at one end against ultra-conservatives at the other. Now I view it as more of a circle, where the most liberal and conservative meet at one point in the realm of libertarianism on issues they agree upon. Among the issues they share is a disdain for government meddling in people’s private lives. (Remember Barry Goldwater’s famous quote about the government staying out of peoples’ bedrooms.) They also object to the government's monitoring their phone calls, banking, and internet activity. Many view Edward Snowden as a hero and not as a criminal for exposing the extent of the government’s data monitoring and surveillance on all of us.

“Oh, Danny Boy” – I was already writing my column this week, when my broadcasting colleague Danny Jones - the Mayor of Charleston, West Virginia - announced Friday that he was changing his party affiliation from Republican to non-affiliate after 45 years. Danny (he does not like being called Mayor) told me that this change has nothing to do with Donald Trump, but rather decision making by the Republicans at both the local and national levels. “People who say this is about Trump are wrong. I have problems with the Republican agenda at the state and national level,” Mayor Jones told me Friday. Jones – who has been in political office over 20 years – will vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson for President.

“Why All of This Matters” – If the Libertarian Presidential ticket is truly polling at 11 percent, watch out! If the team rises to just 15 percent, it qualifies for the Presidential debates. If Libertarians get a national forum for their views - and all the traditional and new media attention that comes with it – then this party is viable. I’m not saying Libertarians could win the election, but they certainly could be the proverbial "spoiler." If they pull enough votes away from Trump or Clinton, they could determine the winner. Just ask Al Gore and Ralph Nader about how a third-party changed the outcome of Campaign 2000!

© Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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