One of the things that remain clear now that both Republicans and Democrats have held their national pep rallies is that it won’t just be the independent voters who determine the next president.
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton left their conventions without totally capturing the enthusiasm of their respective parties. The GOP remains divided between its conservative wing and its growing populist voters. Democrats who were excited with Bernie Sanders are struggling with the “same old, same old” approach of the robot-like Clinton campaign.
Each party stands to lose votes that once were automatic, which opens the door for more swing states and unpredictability.
Analysts from both parties are predicting as many as 10 states could be in play on Election Day, a far cry from 2012 when Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney. Only four states were then decided by 5 percentage points or less. The others were locked up by one of the candidates before Labor Day.
The states that will join Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania on that swing state mantle are North Carolina, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire.
Don’t be surprised if the election is decided by one of these three key issues:
• Jobs: If one of the candidates can convince Middle Class voters that he or she is the “jobs president,” this race is over. Wage growth among the Middle Class has not matched the rise in employment. Median income is lower today than in 2000.
• Unity: Americans are becoming increasingly tired of the polarization that obstructs business in Washington. This normally would work in Trump’s favor as his rise to the top of the Republican Party is based on being an alternative to the status quo. But running a company is different than building the consensus needed in government. Trump’s sharp tongue leads to questions about his leadership.
Clinton’s situation is even more problematic. Voters’ views of Clinton are cemented after a quarter century of her being in the spotlight. Many people, not just Republicans, don’t trust her. On top of that she’s not an exciting campaigner.
• Security: Concerns loom with both candidates, especially in the age of ISIS. Trump will continue to pound Clinton for the Democrat’s failed approach to fighting terror. Clinton will counter with questions about Trump’s temperament.
This campaign is already unlike any campaign Americans have seen before. The only thing close to a certainty is that the winner will belong to the party that is able to convince its base to vote.