Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul are both likely candidates for the 2016 presidential race. Both parties know they'll win the hardline voters who stay loyal to their party. However, who will have more success with independent voters?
If this race actually comes to fruition, it may turn out to be a race truly decided by Independents.
The hard part, however, is figuring out how many independents will vote. According to a recent Huffington Post article, Hillary wins by a landslide in political standards (52.5% to 41.8%). However, the Huffington Post only cites mainstream polls from sources like MSNBC and Fox. That is hardly an accurate gauge of independent voters.
The most recent polling numbers show that 42 percent of all registered voters in America self-identify as independent. While some analysts and commentators have classified some of these voters as "closet partisans," many are true independents that actually show no allegiance to one party or the other and swing from one party or the other every election. This is telling because it leads us to believe that the issues control their votes and not the party platforms.
So let us consider the issues:
Hillary is associated with several political controversies during her tenure as secretary of state, U.S. senator (NY), First Lady and even before her time on the national stage. Let's not forget the Whitewater scandal. Then we have the most immediate one: Benghazi.What about her voting record? She did cast an
affirmative vote for the Iraq War in 2002. This may cause many independents who are war-weary to vote for the Libertarian-leaning Rand Paul. However, Hillary could argue that Rand wasn't around for that vote and so his stance against the war isn't valid.
Rand Paul on the other hand, has had a pretty controversy-free career. However, some voters may view his position on limited government as a bit extreme.
According to an ABC News article, Rand Paul would eliminate four federal departments: HUD, Energy, Commerce, and Education. I would be willing to bet that eliminating the Department of Education is going to lose Rand some votes.
Although public schools are largely funded by state and municipal taxes, voters would likely perceive abolishing the Department of Education as an end to public schools. According to the latest Dept. of Education statistics, over 49.5 million kids are enrolled in American K-12 public schools.
Although there is not any reputable data out there that shows how many independents support public schools, I think it would scare a considerable number of parents who are uninformed about the funding structure of public schools. If they feared that a Rand Paul presidency would harm public schools, they might support Hillary.
What Rand has going for him is his consistent anti-war rhetoric. The American public is war weary and Hillary doesn't have a good track record in regards to the war or armed conflict; not as a U.S. senator or secretary of state.
So in the end, it would be a tough race with no clear overwhelming support from independents. Will we see a more Libertarian-leaning independent voter show up in the 2016 election, or will we see a more Progressive independent voter? I think the performance of the Obama administration over the next two and a half years will decide that.