By Kevin Lair

Senior Elm Writer

These last few weeks we have seen the 2016 presidential race officially begin with candidacy declarations by Republican US Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio, as well as Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All of these candidates were expected to run and have considerable electorate support. With 19 months until the election, dozens of other Republicans and Democrats are expected to throw their hats in the ring.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Although it is too early to assess who will win the election or even who the major party nominees will be, it is interesting to look at recent polling data as a litmus test of where the race stands today. Quinnipiac University’s polling data released on March 31 analyzed the key swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leads Clinton 45 to 42 percent in the Sunshine State, within the poll’s margin of error, while Rubio and Paul trail Clinton two and three percentage points, respectively. In Ohio, Clinton tops all potential GOP opponents, with her smallest lead over Paul, 46 to 41 percent. In Pennsylvania, Paul leads Clinton 45 to 44 percent, well within the poll’s margin of error but a dramatic shift from Clinton’s 53 to 34 percent lead over Paul in Quinnipiac’s poll released Feb. 3.

Quinnipiac released another batch of swing state polling data on April 7, focusing on Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia.  All three states saw diminished voter support for Clinton. Assistant director of the poll Peter A. Brown concluded, “Ominous for Hillary Clinton is the broad scope of the movement today compared to her showing in Quinnipiac University’s mid-February survey. It isn’t just one or two Republicans who are stepping up; it’s virtually the entire GOP field that is running better against her.”  The polls show that virtually every Republican candidate ties Clinton in Colorado and Iowa while she leads all potential opponents in Virginia.

At this stage in the race and considering electoral factors, I would venture that Clinton will become the Democratic nominee, and I believe the GOP nominee is likely to be Bush, Paul, or Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Virtually every poll lists Clinton capturing 60 to 70 percent of registered Democrats and Democratic leaners, and her superior fundraising abilities, name recognition, and political experience will likely thwart any would-be Democratic opponents. Likewise, the Clintons are never afraid to fight dirty and will annihilate any Democrat who gets in Clinton’s way.

Senator Ted Cruz.

Senator Ted Cruz.

On the Republican side, Bush, Paul, and Walker often top any poll and with good reason. All three have illustrated the ability to reach out to an array of Republican and non-Republican voters alike. Bush is perceived as the establishment Republican candidate, shoring up the support of both moderate and conservative Republicans. He also skillfully touts his success as the former governor of Florida, an important swing state. The libertarian-leaning Paul performs well across the Republican spectrum and with young and Democratic voters, likely because of his views on issues like civil rights and prison reform. Walker, well-supported by the Tea Party, also finds support across the spectrum and has found much success in implementing sound fiscal and conservative policies in a predominately blue, union-dominated state.

Whoever the Republican and Democratic candidates are, I urge voters to look long and hard into their backgrounds, their qualifications, and their plans for America. It is clear that these last six years have seen an America become less competitive, less safe, and less free. America cannot afford another president who fails to lead, who fails to stand alongside our allies and against our enemies. An administration with Clinton at the helm is only asking for more of the same (for more information on why Clinton should not be president, please see my earlier article titled “America Deserves Better than Hillary Clinton” in the Sept. 11 edition of The Elm). I encourage voters to see past the glittery smoke of simply electing the first female president and choose instead to elect the first female president when the right candidate comes along.

Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush.

Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush.

We need a candidate and a president who can actually lead. We need a president who can bring both parties to the table, enact bipartisan, common-sense change, and who will fight for the American people rather than their political party. 2016 will be a historic election and a pivotal moment for our nation. Do not punish America by voting for a third term of Obama.

The Elm

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