HEMPSTEAD - As the 2016 presidential campaign season enters the home stretch, both candidates are trying to shore up support with voters who identify as independent.
About 30 percent of Americans say they are Republicans, and another 30 percent say they are Democrats. Another roughly 40 percent of Americans say they are independent voters.
A certain anti-establishment sentiment helped propel Donald Trump, a celebrity businessman, to the top of the Republican pack this year, eliminating 16 other GOP candidates. Analysts say that sentiment also helped Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders put up a much tougher fight than expected against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.
"People hate what's happened in Washington," says political strategist Mike Dawidziak. "The two parties' lack of cooperation made fertile ground from which Donald Trump could sprout."
GOP leaders believe that the anti-establishment sentiment coupled with the large amount of undecided independent voters could spell victory for Trump in November.
John Jay LaValle, top Suffolk Republican and Trump campaign worker, believes those independent voters will help Trump win New York -- something a Republican has not done since Ronald Reagan won the state in 1984.
"Don't be surprised if New York is a competitive state," LaValle says. "It seems unlikely... but let's face it: The pundits are looking kind of silly this year. This is the year where the playbook is getting rewritten, so if you're counting on conventional wisdom, that might be the biggest oxymoron going today."