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Support for Clinton as Independent Candidate Not Surprising

A Commentary By Douglas Schoen

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hillary Clinton's support as an Independent candidate in a hypothetical 5-way Presidential race should not come as a surprise.The fact that Senator Clinton drew 22% to John McCain's 32% and Barack Obama's 31% demonstrates that the electorate remains volatile and unpredictable. It also demonstrates the weakness of the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. McCain was unable to garner one third of the vote in a trial heat against four opponents indicates how weak the Republican party is going into this election. Rasmussen polls have shown that Republican party identification is at a low point in recent history and this survey bears that point out.The polling also shows that the two Democratic candidates may well have expanded the pool of possible Democratic voters--53% of the electorate indicated that they could conceivably support one of the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination (no Democrat has won 53% of the vote since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964).This data also demonstrates that beyond the broad levels of support for the two Democratic contenders, the electorate is increasingly willing to consider third party alternatives as 28% of the electorate indicated they were prepared to consider defecting from the major parties. Less than two thirds of the electorate is currently supporting one of the two major party candidates for President in a five way race.Beyond that, the poll also shows that Bob Barr, running as the Libertarian, and Ralph Nader, running as the Green Party candidate, could well cut into the major party candidates' support. Each garnered 3% as Independent candidates indicating that in a close election, they theoretically could get enough support to make the difference.

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Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

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