By Aaron Derton
In this edition of Legislative Agenda, Aaron Derton sat down with Texas State professors Ed Mihalkanin and William DeSoto to get their take on the presidential election.
Aaron: As of February third, about two weeks ago, the Iowa caucuses had ended. In about a week and a half is the Texas Primary. What can you tell students about finding voting information on candidates in the Texas primary?
DeSoto: There’s a lot of races coming up and I haven’t looked at them carefully, but for example there are some local races involving the Hays County Precinct Commissioner 3, Will Conley is running against Rob Rorick. So that’s one example of something going on at the local level. And so there’s a long ballot that Texas voters will get to know. They will have had to register already cause Texas makes it kind of tough because it was one month prior to the election, so I guess it was Monday, February 1st. Some states make it easier, but you have to remember to do it one week in advance. If they have remembered, that’s the first step. Then the second step is finding out what precinct they’re in, so the Hays County administrator, if they’re in Hays County, or your county administrator can direct you to the appropriate source. And once there, you’ll be able to make a number of decisions and it’s likely that the contest for the Republican presidential nomination will still be going on. Folks are even thinking that there might be a brokered convention, in which no one will have the necessary number. The March 1st Primary will be important as could influence the outcome of a number of important races.
Mihalkanin: And that’s another thing will need to look at with respect to Iowa and some people have brought this up; a caucus is usually at night, after the polls close, and you have to leave your house and publicly identify as a supporter of a particular party candidate. The Obama campaign in ’08 did a superb job of caucus organization. And if you look at that throughout the country, that made a powerful difference. There were some commentators, I can’t remember if they were from Huffington Post or Salon who pointed out that the Cruz organization in Iowa was superb. It had people throughout the state, and that that was a weakness of the Trump campaign. And now, expectation game: who should be expected to win Texas in the Republican primary in Texas? Senator Cruz, this is his home state. So ironically enough, if Senator Cruz wins but not by a large margin, the expectation game, if there-it depends how many other candidates are still in the race, could rebound against him. So what Sen. Cruz has to make sure of, no matter what happens in New Hampshire, South Carolina, earlier contests, he’s got to knock it out of the park in Texas. It can’t be like the Iowa caucus for Senator Clinton vs Sen. Sanders. He can’t win by a half a percentage point in Texas.
Aaron: A trend in Presidential politics is that the incumbent party loses the White House after 8 years. The last time it happened for Republicans was Bush Senior, and Truman for the Democrats. What are the chances that Sanders or Clinton could win the presidency for another 4 years?
DeSoto: Well, a lot comes down to who the nominee is on each side. And I saw one, I think it was a gambling outfit giving odds, and they thought that there was a 52% chance at this point that Secretary Clinton would become the President and I think 17% for Mr. Trump. There are candidates who could be nominated that would prove difficult sells in a national election. Both Cruz and Trump on the Republican side, and Sanders on the right, are seen as Candidates who might appeal to voters in the primary but not to the general election, which will be in November. Now the establishment is working to get behind Rubio, I think they’ve settled on Rubio, or one of the other candidates to emerge as a consensus on the establishment side. And, I think although I haven’t seen efforts to quantify this, that Rubio would be a tougher person for the Democratic nominee to defeat.
Mihalkanin: It seems like once political scientists are able to discover a law, not a law of the legislature, but a political-a law of politics, then it’s destroyed. You think of William J. Clinton, governor Clinton in 1992, he did not win Iowa, he did not win New Hampshire, and there was a law in a sense, that said if a candidate did not win either, you know, does not win New Hampshire and Iowa, no way they can get their parties nomination. Lo and behold, Gov. Clinton gets his party’s nomination in 1992. I would say historically, kinda like historical data would suggest the Republicans should sin the Presidential contest in 2016, but the economy of the U.S is doing better than a lot of countries economies.
Aaron: Very interesting. Thank you both for stopping by, it’s been a pleasure.