I think we've already entered the era of the third party. The independent voter seems to have the attention of both parties. And who are the crossover voters, either those Republicans too liberal, too moderate, or too ethical to support or reward the RNC for Palin's mouthings or the Hillary supporters, too sexist or angry to support Senator Obama, if not defacto independents?
Pundits are claiming that Palin ticked up McCain's numbers because she was a fresh face and attractive. I disagree. I believe that Palin attracted the far right Republicans who were unwilling to support the Maverick. And McCain, while he's able to hold those supporters as long as Palin spews attacks, is losing, one percentage point at a time, the Independents, right leaning Democrats, liberal Republicans, and moderate Republicans who originally supported him. I suspect that, vitriol aside, when it comes down to actually pulling the lever, even the loudest of Hillary's supporters will be unable to forget that McCain and Palin refer to anyone who is Pro-Choice as Pro-Abortion, and will cast their votes for Obama.
On November 5th we are going to learn just how unimportant exit poles are. Hillary supporters will vote for Obama and claim that they didn't. Some will remember the last nasty ad they saw and push back the only way they can. Some will be unable to pull the lever for a black man. And even more will pull that lever because they do believe that the content of a man's character is more important than the color of his skin. Or who he served on a board with. Just as some are able to forget who John McCain vacationed with back in the days before The Keating Five became so infamous.
We will be left with a Republican Party populated by those who support proponents of what the elder Bush called Vodoo Economics and are Anti everything and everyone else. Anti-Abortion, Anti-Communist, Anti-Gun Control, and Anti-Obama. 30 to 40 percent of the electorate. It may be impossible for the RNC to ever reconcile the right wing of it's party with those who were too moderate to support the McCain campaign.
Democrats have finally defined themselves as supporters of Trickle Up Economics. It remains to be seen if the plan to follow George W's example and pump money into the Middle Class will help with the economic recovery. Will the Democratic Party escape the label Socialist Party that the McCain/Palen/RNC ads are working hard to attach to it? Possibly not. We aren't long past the days when Commie and Pinko were popular labels for those that some disagreed with.
At the end of the day the Independent Party may attract the moderate and liberal Republicans who supported Obama's call for change, but, who simply won't become Democrats. It may draw those like NOW if it panders to their need for a woman, any woman, candidate. The right leaning Democrats may join in. As well as those Independents who aren't too independent to refuse to affiliate themselves with any organization.
A three party system certainly would make things interesting. It might be just the Change we need. At least it would give Joe Lieberman a chance to switch parties one more time.