Real estate mogul Donald Trump has reportedly changed his public political affiliation to unaffiliated from Republican, fueling talk about him running as an independent candidate for the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections.
Trump, 65, who initially registered with the Democrats in 2001, switched to the Republicans in 2009 and declared his intention to run for Republican nominations in 2010. The high-profile businessman has successfully kept speculations surrounding his candidacy alive, in some way or the other. He was even thought to be running for President in 2004 and 2008. This year he has adroitly shifted between I will and I won't several times.
Most recently, he withdrew from hosting a small GOP poll debate, stating he did not want to weaken his chances of contesting the elections by moderating the event. The Daily Mail even quoted his lawyer, Michael Cohen, as saying President Obama would have to be defeated in 2012 under any circumstances, leading to further speculation he (Trump) would not mind contesting the elections if he were not satisfied with the Republican nominee.
The big question now, under these circumstances, seems to be - does he have any better chance, than existing Republican candidates, to fight Obama? It doesn't look likely.
It must be admitted that Trump did have good ratings, as a probable candidate in early spring this year, when he announced his desire to run for President. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, released in March, said he was leading other Republican candidates. However that was when he was still a registered Republican.
As an independent candidate, his chances of being elected are significantly less because he, like other independent candidates must bank heavily on independent voters and such people are usually undecided on their choice, till the last moment.
It is not easy to influence an independent voter... most of them are so because they do not agree with policies of established parties and remain undecided till forced to choose. However, Trump could bank on the fact that such people normally look for change.
The problem, though, is that he had a good chance of winning them over had he positioned himself as an independent candidate earlier in the year and laid his groundwork. Instead, he flirted with the idea of Republican nominations and positioned himself as a conservationist, shifting his views on current issues like abortion and gay rights, to match hardcore Republican philosophy.
Now, however, since he seems officially out of the Republican race, his former credentials might make it difficult to woo independents; they usually prefer candidates with strong values and consistent principles.
Therefore, it seems, if Trump does decide to run, he may have to concentrate heavily on Republican votes. Such a situation could, potentially, hand Obama an easy run back in to the White House... if Trump decides to run as an independent candidate, he may end up eating in to Republican vote share... an outcome that could prove fatal to both parties.