Sarah Palin may or may not be inching closer to an actual presidential run.
But watching her appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire over the long weekend, Decoder was reminded of how savvy her political instincts can be. Palin’s attacks on “crony capitalism” and the “permanent political class” may sound like just another set of talking points, but they tap directly into a very real vein of frustration among voters with the political system as a whole – a frustration that could create an opening for an unconventional, possibly even a third party, candidate.
It got us wondering: What if Palin decided to buck ties to the GOP and run as a Tea Party candidate instead?
Palin herself opened the door to just such a possibility back in June, when she told conservative TV host Sean Hannity that although a year ago she would never have even considered it, “conditions have changed in this last year.”
And it might not be so crazy. Current polling shows levels of approval for both parties at historic lows. The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out this morning found that 54 percent of voters want to throw out every member of Congress. And while the tea party is much more closely aligned with Republicans than Democrats, the original movement was first fueled by anger toward President George W. Bush.
More broadly, the notion that this campaign is unfolding amid a unique set of challenges that could give rise to a legitimate third-party bid is generating steam from a variety of quarters.
The group Americans Elect is working to get space on presidential ballots in all 50 states ahead of a national nominating convention for an independent ticket to be held on the Internet next summer.
And while the group has its work cut out for it, it has drawn support from media types like New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who wrote in a recent column that the nation’s current set of challenges calls for a
“new, hybrid politics that mixes spending cuts, tax increases, tax reform, and investments in infrastructure, education, research and production. But that mix is not the agenda of either party. Either our two parties find a way to collaborate in the center around this new hybrid politics, or a third party is going to emerge…”
The desire among voters to do something dramatic, something that would turn the entire system on its head, is clearly out there. The question is, which candidate (or potential candidate) is best poised to capitalize on it?