MIAMI -- “Pay attention to us. Address our issues.”
That’s the request from independent voter Jeffrey Solomon. He left the Democratic Party last year and says many independents feel forgotten until both parties remember they need the independents’ votes.
“I'd say the majority of independents know who they're voting for. Already the majority of people, across the board, I think have made their decisions. But there are also a number that I'm sure are on the fence. They are listening to both sides and they're going to make in their minds what they think is the most rational decision for their kitchen table issues,” Solomon said.
One of those undecided independents is Tracy Marks.
“I mean, there's still a couple of things I'm weighing, and that's going to be determined. You know, I have to really sit down and think about it,” Marks said.
She says she isn’t satisfied with either candidate and is still waiting to see how the next few weeks play out.
“My decision to vote for a Republican or a Democrat is going to be very narrow because where am I right now? What do I need? What do the people around me need? Who's going to provide that right now? You know, sometimes we have to do what we have to do just for right now,” Marks said.
Politics professor Kathryn Depalo-Gould says both candidates are doubling down their focus on Florida, the biggest prize among battleground states.
“We're in a swing state. We also have those swing voters. Voters as an official affiliation. Whether people officially do that on their voter registration, or they self-identify as independents is increasing,” Depalo-Gould said.
In 2016, 24% of Florida voters registered as “no party affiliation.” Today, that number has grown to 26% -- a couple of points that might mean everything in a swing state.
“Independent voters who swung toward Trump, you know, may still swing toward Biden. On the other hand, Biden with Hispanic voters, including some Puerto Rican voters, again, who are independent, and others, even some of the younger Cuban voters who have voted Democrat are really considering Trump at this particular time. So when we talk about independent voters, they're not a monolith. And you have to really break this down by age, gender, by race and ethnicity to figure out, you know, where are these voters swinging?” Depalo-Gould said.
A recent NBC News/Marist poll asked if November's election were held today who voters would support. Among independent voters, 51% said they would support the Biden ticket, while 40% said they would support Trump.
“I don't think it's a sure bet for Trump at all. And I certainly don't think it's a sure bet for Biden in Florida. So this is going to come down to the wire and it's going to come down to these independent voters and people who are willing to swing from one candidate to another,” Depalo-Gould said.
“They will make the difference in this election. The independents are going to decide who is the president of the United States this time around,” Solomon said.
Some independents are also bringing up Amendment 3 as an important issue to them. The amendment to the Florida Constitution on the November ballot would end the state's closed primary system and would create an open “jungle primary” where everyone can vote and only the top two vote-getters would move on to the general election, whether they are a Democrat or a Republican.