A candidate as cautious as Hillary Clinton doesn’t delve lightly into an issue as offbeat as UFOs.
As The New York Times documented last week, the Democratic presidential front-runner has been strangely vocal about Area 51, the Nevada military site that ET buffs have long connected with purported government cover-ups. Maybe Clinton is just indulging campaign chairman John Podesta, a devotee of the ’90s-era sci-fi series “The X-Files.” Or maybe she’s adjusting to the scrambled-up dynamics of the 2016 race by seeking out neglected voters.
Suddenly, UFO buffs other groups long ignored by the political mainstream are worth courting. Meanwhile, millions of voters now fall into cultural and occupational categories that barely existed in 2008 or 2012. Here are just some of the obscure voting blocs that could come into play in November:
Why them? If Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders can target alienated voters, so can Clinton.
Key demands: Federal records on Area 51; photographs of Roswell crash victims
Republican opportunity: Broad suspicion of government
Democratic opportunity: Intense suspicion of military, law enforcement
Data points: Despite mixed reviews from critics, an “X-Files” revival earlier this year drew excellent ratings.
Why them? New, potentially vast category of workers. Bonus: People who own cars and have flexible schedules can easily get to the polls.
Key demands: Higher base rates; continued peak pricing
Republican opportunity: Vanguard of emerging “gig economy” may like traditional GOP themes of entrepreneurship, self-reliance
Democratic opportunity: Many “gig economy” workers would prefer steady paychecks
Data points: Very limited. According to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by Verdant Labs, taxi drivers donate overwhelmingly to Democrats; truck drivers give mainly to Republicans.
Why them? Tech-savvy parents who bought self-balancing scooters before a February crackdown by the Consumer Product Safety Commission may be primed for philosophical discussion about proper exercise of federal power.
Key demands: More innovation, less spontaneous combustion
Republican opportunity: Potential for backlash against nanny-state micromanagement of kids’ fun new hobby
Democratic opportunity: Fires caused by shoddy scooters offer a bracing argument for the regulatory state
Data points: Hoverboards frequently designed for riders 12 and up. Actual users may not reach voting age for years.
‘Game of Thrones’ fans
Why them? HBO series about fictional, blood-soaked Westeros has fervent following among young men, whose future political allegiances are up for grabs.
Key demand: No spoilers
Republican opportunity: Unvarnished portrayal of human nature discourages doe-eyed idealism. Liberal nudity and liberal politics are two different things.
Democratic opportunity: Novelist George R. R. Martin, whose books inspired the series, has criticized Trump’s stance on Syrian refugees.
Data point: Google search on phrase “Make Westeros Great Again” yields 689,000 results.