Commentary: Election day could be Independents day

The snowstorm of politics is blowing into town again, and candidates better be paying attention to the shifting winds. They may have thought it was gloomy when they last ran for office. Turns out that was just a sprinkle. Now voters are drenched, and hopping mad.

Sure, the economy was gasping and President Bush was already bailing out the banks the last time county commissioners, state legislators and U.S. House members were shaking hands and kissing babies. But compared with today, the electorate was giddy. Their tough times had only just begun. At least they had "hope" and "change" and "Yes, we can!"

Candidates begin filing to run for office next Monday in a whole different world. President Barack Obama's coattails aren't on the ballot, and even if they were they would be shredded by health care reform and GM takeovers and an unemployment rate approaching Jake Delhomme's completion percentage.

Have you ever wondered how a politician's approval numbers can yo-yo back and forth like BofA stock? I mean, if you liked him in November, can you feel that differently about him months later?

You can if you're an independent. And independents are the coolest clique around these days. You might forget about them, what with liberals and conservatives bashing each other's brains in on talk radio and cable TV and charlotteobserver.com message boards. But independents are in control, growing both in number and influence.

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