The conventions are now over. The candidates have now been decided.
In one corner sits Donald Trump, the entrepreneur/reality television star turned politician. In the other corner is Hillary Clinton, former first wife and senator vying for the title of first female president of the United States.
Their bases are highly energized; firmly behind their respective candidates with a ferocity not see in recent election cycles. However, there are many voters who are sitting on the sidelines waiting, for various reasons, to choose who they will mark on their ballots in November.
It is this bloc of voters that will ultimately decide who sits in the Oval Office come next January.
I can say firmly that I am one of many swing voters this year. I feel this way because there is just not a candidate that stands out. As Americans, it is our tendency to want to find a good guy and a bad guy, whether it be in our entertainment or our politics.
Many, like me, have concluded that there is no real front runner, or “good guy”, that is present. Donald Trump’s divisive way of speaking, that includes many meme worthy gaffes, is off putting to many, even though it riles up a very angry, blue collar base. Whereas Hillary Clinton and her email struggles have continued to promote distrust and little confidence in her ability to lead, as well as the controversial handling of the attack on the Benghazi embassy that Congress has spent hundreds of hours and millions of dollars investigating.
All of this alone is enough to scare the dickens out of your average voter…and this is not even touching on any of the other major issues of the election that continue to distress many Americans.
The second reason why so many are waiting to decide on a candidate is because of the many issues facing a shrinking middle class. The issues vary throughout America, but the common themes are relatively the same. Healthcare is a major issue and has been for many years.
There is so much red tape and out of pocket expenses even with insurance and the help of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Navigating all of this is extremely difficult. The Affordable Healthcare Act was supposed to fix many of these difficulties.
A Republican led Congress has continued to hamper any real change that would have been made by the bill’s passage, which has led to many angry voters. Some of these same voters are angry that it has been passed at all. Swing voters wait for one of the candidates to find a common ground that will provide low cost prescriptions and doctor’s care for the masses, without breaking the government’s bank…or their own.
We are still waiting.
The other issues are easy to type and difficult to fully explain, so difficult and varied that I could probably write a novel on each one of them. These issues include everything from foreign policy and trade agreements, the never ending war on terror, and overall treatment of veterans by the government, the rising cost of college education, the dysfunctional and failing public education system, and the almighty economy.
The bottom line is that swing voters are scared.
Everything seems to be falling apart and in need of complete rebuild. Being a fan of Cleveland sports, I know all too well about what it takes to rebuild a team. This is an entire country we are talking about here though. The problems are systemic and have been on-going for so long that many voters feel that Washington D.C., as a whole, is out of touch with “regular” America.
Reuters has published a great, six series article that highlights these issues in their series, “The Undecided”.
The battlegrounds for swing voters are nearly the same as they have been for the past three election cycles. These states are Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, with the additions of Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Arizona.
Ohio is a battleground I am familiar with being a lifelong resident of the state. Immigration is a hot button issue here too, but not as much seeing how we are so far north of our Mexican neighbors and have been minimally affected by the influx of refugees from the wars in the Middle East.
Healthcare, education, and the economy are what everyone is really focused on here. Both campaigns and parties have offered band-aids to fix the many issues, but there is no clear cut answer from either candidate that offers true solutions to the huge problems our generationally split country has right now.
This leads many swing voters, including myself, to ask, “Who is the lesser of two evils?”
Neither candidate is perfect. Both candidates come from big money backgrounds. Both candidates have their share of controversies surrounding them. The way I can see it here is that this election will come down to how well the candidates do at expressing their goals for the next four years during the upcoming debates.
Will Clinton finally dispose of the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act and its legacy of standardized testing? Will Trump be able to convince manufacturing companies to return to the United States, with the promise of a more “business friendly” tax code? Who will have the most comprehensive, united plan to bring America back to peace and prosperity?
This is what I am looking for when I sit down to watch the debates. I am sure I am not alone here.
In fact, I know I am not alone.
In just my home state of Ohio, Reuters estimates that out of 12 million registered voters about 560,000 remain undecided as to whom they will elect on their ballots this November. In Florida, an estimated 840,000 out of 20 million voters are being identified as swing voters. The other battleground states are seeing similar figures. This election will come down to the numbers and how each candidate can present their most palatable plan for America going forward.
There is so much at stake in this election cycle that is difficult to choose. Neither candidate is in the middle on many of the issues. This presents a difficult decision to centrists, like me. I, like many others across the country, will watch the debates and choose from there. Although I am not a fan of the man, I did applaud Ted Cruz for his ending message to the delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. “To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” he said, pausing for cheers from the crowd. “Stand and speak and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
He’s right. The question now is who will the swing voters choose? We shall see in November.
References: (Reilly, Stephenson, & Gibson, 2016), (Schroeder, 2016)