Sunday, October 12, 2014

Market Opportunity in the Political Marketplace

Where are the majority of American voters today?
We saw a poll last week from PPP that somewhat shocked us.

It showed a tightening race in South Dakota's Senate seat, one previously thought to be solidly in the GOP pickup camp.

But not solely because of the Democrat candidate Rick Weiland.

Because of the Independent candidate. Former GOP US Senator Larry Pressler who is running as an Independent against the front-runner and presumptive favorite former GOP Governor Mike Rounds.

The most recent poll results showed 35% support for Rounds; 28% for Weiland and 24% for Pressler.

First of all, we were surprised to see the name 'Larry Pressler' on any ballot nowadays. He served in the US Senate as a Republican Senator for 18 years from 1979 to 1997 and is now 72 years old. Good for him....still alive and kicking and participating in American representative democracy.

Second, we were surprised to see him with 24% of the poll results. As an Independent. In South Dakota.

In Kansas, the Democrat Senate candidate dropped out of the race against long-time incumbent GOP Senator Pat Roberts paving the way for 'Independent' (but decidedly a liberal Democrat) wealthy businessman Greg Orman to challenge Senator Roberts. The race has become more serious than anyone thought even 2 months ago.

What is this saying about the 'rise' of Independent candidates running for political office in America, if it is saying anything at all?

For a long time, we have been observing and writing about the incredible surge in registered Independent (Unaffiliated) voters in the state of North Carolina. Recently, an article came out that said there were counties 4 counties in the state where Unaffiliateds were now the clear majority of registered voters; 39 counties where Unaffiliateds were second to Democrats; and 26 counties where Unaffiliateds were second to Republicans.

That is 69 counties out of 100 where Unaffiliateds were either #1 or #2 in voter registration in North Carolina.

That is simply hard to believe. In 1992, when that crackpot but well-meaning Ross Perot ran for
'I am all ears!'
President ('Can't you just hear that giant sucking sound?'), Unaffiliated registration in North Carolina amounted to less than 4 %.

He got 19% of the vote nationwide but no electoral votes. Thankfully upon reflection.

North Carolina is one of the few states where legal voters can register Unaffiliated so it provides a pretty good petri dish to try to discover why there are so many Independents nowadays.

It is pretty simple: Over the past 14 years, under both Republican and Democrat complete and partial control of our government in the Congress and the White House, our big problems have not been solved.

Period.

We had a $11 trillion national debt when President George W. Bush left office in 2009.

Today, we are just under $18 trillion of national debt under President Barack Obama who had 100% Democrat control of the House and Senate from 2009-2011 and a split Congress since then.

The economy feels as stagnant in terms of job creation and wage expansion for the middle class as it has at any time since the truly desultory years under President Jimmy Carter that mercifully ended in 1980.

The costs of health care keep going up and now, under Obamacare, people are NOT paying $2500 less per family and people are NOT able to 'keep their doctor if you like them'.

Suffice it to say, if you want to look at it in market-based terms, the current suppliers of political leadership are creating a vacuum in the market for effective and real and tangible results from their political leadership.

Any time there is an opportunity in the market not currently being filled by existing companies or services, someone comes up with a new product or service to fill that gap and hopefully make millions in the process.

Same thing with political leadership.

So what is happening today in American politics?

In 1985, Lee Atwater said the majority of American voters would be 'socially libertarian (for the most part) and fiscally conservative' way back in 25 years.

Looks like he was just about right on-target. The Independents are fed up with both the 'extremes' as they see them coming from both the Democrat and Republican Party in Washington at least.

Maybe the established parties will reform themselves and start moving to accommodate these disaffected voters more in the middle.

Maybe pigs will start to fly and become drones who will shoot sausage-and-bacon bullets at ISIS terrorists in Iraq, yes?

Do you really see the Democrats becoming 'less' active on social issues and 'more' fiscally conservative over the next decade? Or the Tea Party Etc. Republicans becoming less concerned about social issues and focus like a laser beam solely on the economy, reforming entitlements and balancing the budget?

The 80% majority of Americans have fallen into the following categories over the years: Southern Democrat; moderate Republican, sentient Libertarian, JFK Democrats.

Here's what the far-left extreme of the Democrat Party calls Southern Democrats nowadays: 'Extinct'

Here's what the far-right extreme of the Republican Party calls everyone to the west of them on the political spectrum: 'RINO'

Which  means to them: 'Really. I know everything about politics. And You Don't'

But somehow, the 'wackos' on either end of the spectrum are the tail wagging the dog in both parties now. It is most likely because of the extreme gerrymandering that has taken place in both parties where the only real election takes place in the primaries to see who is the 'most pure' when it comes to 'party principles'. Whatever that is nowadays.

'Party Purity' is a dangerous thing in most cases. In any form of government. In any nation over the span of hundreds of years.

That is why there is such an opening for Independents nowadays. All you have to do is run in the general election, not in any vicious primary. And all you have to do is win 34% of the general election vote (in most normal states outside of Louisiana) and see the other 2 candidates split the vote 33%/33% and you win.

There are hurdles to any Independent winning such as having to get 4% of the registered voters in your race to sign a petition allowing you to be on the ballot (as they do in NC). Another hurdle is the lack of institutional history as a party plus no real organization or list of donors to call on for help.

However, in these days where 527s and powerful technology advances have basically made parties more marginal and the personality and organizational skills of the candidate more important, don't be surprised to see more Independents running soon.

When you see trends such as in North Carolina where both Democrat and Republican voter registration drop 3-5%/year and Independent registration rise by 5%+/year, that is called 'market disruption' in any business we know.

Maybe the 'Lost Republicans' and 'Lost Democrats' in the Independent camp will keep coming home to vote for the Democrat or Republican candidate each election.

But what they are 'coming home to' nowadays...burnt-down smoldering buildings on both sides where nothing gets accomplished for the good of the nation as a whole when all is said and done?

'Going out' with the Independent in each race might become easier and easier to do each election cycle to come. As long as the Independent candidate can think deeply and act like a real leader, that is.


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