For more elections than I care to remember, I’ve searched my ballots for the space that says “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” Never found it. But in another of those meaningless and seldom interesting presidential straw polls, some 2,600 GOP-TP conservatives meeting in Florida exercised it beautifully last week.

They looked at the present crop of wannabees and chose one of the least likely to succeed in anything electoral: Herman Cain. The percentage margin over the supposed front-runner was more than double. YES!

Cain’s not going anywhere. But this futile exercise in the Sunshine State points up two things. One is the willingness of some people this year to vote for nearly anybody who isn’t “Him.” “Him” being someone from the list of “established” candidates. “Things aren’t working with the current crop,” they reason, “So lets try someone else. Anyone else.”

That’s an important wildcard this year and shouldn’t be taken lightly no matter how dangerous the outcome could be.

The other factor playing into the 2012 election is that Democrats are showing signs of this same dissatisfaction and malaise on their own side of the ballot. At the top. Many are expressing a desire for another “horse” besides the incumbent. How big that group may be is anyone’s guess but it might be large enough to change the outcome in a close election.

By tradition, the party with an incumbent president doesn’t usually offer another name on the primary ballot. As is often said, “He may be an S-O-B but he’s our S-O-B.” For various reasons, some Democrats aren’t satisfied with having no other choice from their stable this time around. There doesn’t seem to be any consensus for any particular name. Just for a choice.

Some Republicans of my acquaintance aren’t terribly satisfied with what’s being offered on the GOP election menu. For good reason. Some of their current offerings couldn’t win a high school class election. Several have a tenuous grasp on reality. More than one is factually challenged on nearly any subject. Taken as a group, the most universal reaction seems to be “Is this the best we can do?”

For that reason, some big money GOPer’s continue to hammer on the New Jersey door of Gov. Christie. So far, he hasn’t opened it. And he shouldn’t. Christie has considerable strength’s and talent. He may prove to be a good presidential choice. Some years down the road

But right now, the one aspect people seem to admire most about him is also his biggest flaw: the tendency to “tell it like it is” and bull his way through tough situations. More than a few times, Christie has had one of his size 11 shoes in his mouth after an encounter. He’s perceived as being “candid” though I’m not so sure it isn’t simply a short fuse.

Christie reminds me of the young bull sitting atop a hill overlooking a herd of cows in a lush pasture. He’s ready to RUN down the hill and court one of ‘em. But the older, wiser bull next to him suggests they conserve their strength, WALK down the hill and court them all.

Christie hasn’t learned that lesson yet. We don’t need a president who is willing to run through a wall when decisions are being made. Which seems to be his customary approach. While I wish Pres. Obama was more willing than he seems to be to take someone to the woodshed, that’s not the primary trait we need in a chief executive. So far, Christie has shown little patience with negotiation and trying to win people to his point of view. In fact, he’s gone the other way and run into several immovable walls in his own tenure. Patience in a president is a virtue to be valued. Though in Obama’s case, I’d like to see a little more traffic to that outbuilding on occasion.

So, here we are. Some Democrats who want a little more “kick-ass” in their leader. And many Republicans still looking past the candidates they have, trying to find someone more to their liking. I doubt they’ll come up with anyone who can achieve a significant base, given how rightward the GOP hierarchy is currently leaning. That would require someone who is “right “ on ALL issues. There is no room for compromise among the purists. And the purists seem to be in charge.

All this makes for very unsettling politics in an already unsettled economic and politically divided time. How this will play out is anyone’s guess.

We have 14 months to go. One party not entirely happy with it’s own horse. And the other party still looking for someone to ride. Even the best handicappers wouldn’t place a bet at this point.

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