Independents emerge as deciding factor in presidential race

The Wisconsin primary showed Tuesday that independents will play a bigger role in the race for the presidency than previously anticipated. It also marked the day Howard Dean originally said he would back out of the race if he did not win it, but Dean Day came and went, and Dean remains in the race even though he has yet to win a state.

As the primary was an open one, not only registered Democrats were allowed to vote, but also independents and registered Republicans. Exit polls indicated that only 60 percent of the voters were registered Democrats, most of the remainder being independents.

This surprising outcome suggests that up to one third of the votes in the presidential election to be held this November may come from independents. John Edwards agreed with Larry King on Larry King Live when asked if he thinks that there will be an equal split in votes coming from the three groups. Historically, independents have been a deciding factor in many races, but this time the impact of the group came as a surprise to many. It seems that due to the nature of the race, independents are aware their vote may be the deciding factor, dramatically increasing that group’s turnout.

The stance of not only the Democrats, but also that of incumbent President George W. Bush, could now move further to the middle in order to court undecided voters.

John Edwards, who finished very close behind current front-runner John Kerry, said he hoped the race would hone down to a two-person race soon because he felt it would help the party to “start focusing on the issues,” but said he would leave the decision to the other candidates.

True to this statement, the other candidates continued on their campaigns Tuesday night. Even Howard Dean said in a speech “We are not done,” also stating that his campaign had “written the platform.”

By investing most of his money early on, he tested the waters for the others and energized a large group of predominantly young voters to follow the democratic process. While the future of Dean’s campaign remains uncertain, the other candidates have certainly benefited from his campaign. After Wisconsin, only 19 percent of delegates necessary to win the nomination have been won. As long as it is still mathematically possible for Dean to win the nomination, it is understandable that the governor from Vermont remains on the campaign trail.