Colin Luther Powell (born April 5, 1937) is a retired four-star general of the United States Army. Powell served as the 16th National Security Advisor from 1987 to 1989 during the Reagan Administration. Powell was the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. Powell was discussed as a possible VP choice in 1992, when President George H. W. Bush considered dropping Vice President Dan Quayle from the ticket. Powell was also discussed as a possible presidential candidate in the presidential elections of 1996, 2000, and 2008. From 2001 to 2005 he was President George W. Bush's Secretary of State, although some wished he had been Secretary of Defense. Powell was an Independent until 1995 when he became a Republican.
I got this idea for a what if scenario after reading multiple alternate history timelines on Alternatehistory.com.
Those being the following
So let's say Colin Powell's wife Alma Powell died in a car crash in April of 1996. A month later Powell announces his candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and chooses Ohio Governor George Voinovich as his running mate. The Republican primary field consists of Kansas Senator Bob Dole, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan of Virginia, businessman Steve Forbes of New York, former ECOSOC Ambassador Alan Keyes of Maryland, and former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. Dick Morris is fired from Clinton's campaign staff and is hired by Powell as his campaign manager. In January of 1996, 22 year-old White House staffer Monica Lewinsky becomes pregnant with the child of President Bill Clinton. It is revealed to the American public in October of that year in the midst of the election. The Republican primary ends with Pat Buchanan as the presidential nominee and Alabama Governor Fob James as the vice presidential nominee. The election arrives. It is viewed as a three way race with Powell barely in the lead. Powell narrowly carries the states of California, Tennessee, Maine, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Delaware, and Oregon over Clinton and carries Virginia, Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi over Buchanan. Powell wins a total of 320 electoral votes in the electoral college and wins the popular vote with 36.8%, making him the first presidential candidate since Abraham Lincoln in 1860 to win the popular vote by such a low margin. Powell takes office as the first African-American President of the United States on January 20, 1997. What happens next? Does he join a party, make his own, or does he remain an Independent? Who does he face in 2000? If he remains President until 2005 who would succeed him? Another Independent such as himself? Or maybe a Republican like George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, or Olympia Snowe. Possibly a Democrat such as Dick Gephardt, John Edwards, or Howard Dean? How does this influence the 1998 and 2002 midterm elections?
1996 United States Presidential Election
National Popular Vote–103,498,457 Votes Cast/52.6% voter turnout
Fmr. CJCS Colin L. Powell (I-NY)/Gov. George V. Voinovich (I-OH)
320 Electoral Votes
36.8% of the Popular Vote
Pres. William J. Clinton (D-AR)/Vice Pres. Albert A. Gore Jr. (D-TN)
160 Electoral Votes
35.1% of the Popular Vote
Fmr. Presidential Advisor Patrick J. Buchanan (R-VA)/Gov. Forrest H. James Jr. (R-AL)
58 Electoral Votes
26.7% of the Popular Vote
1.4% of the Popular Vote
Please discuss the ramifications of such an event.