INSIDE THE STATEHOUSE
by Steve Flowers
As if we have not been inundated enough with politics this year, hold on to your seats. Over the next few weeks that is all you will hear, read or see. The Republican Convention is set for July 18-22 in Cleveland and the Democratic Convention will begin on July 25 in Philadelphia.
After a full year of primaries, caucuses and delegate collecting, the field is finally set for the fall campaign for president. After the July conventions are over, the race is on between Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Republican standard bearer Donald Trump.
Trump has been the story of the year. He vanquished a field of stellar and sterling Republicans. It was quite a quest. He locked up the GOP nomination in May.
It took Hillary a little longer to put away socialist Bernie Sanders. In fact, Sanders won more primaries than Clinton and got almost as many votes.
The results of the primaries throughout the country reveal that there are two extreme political parties in America. The Democratic Party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is extremely liberal and the Republican Party of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions is extremely conservative. George Wallace would be hard pressed to run around the country today running for president as a third party candidate spouting his famous line, “There ain’t a dimes worth of difference in the national Republican and Democratic parties,” because there is a vast difference. In fact, they ought to simply change the name of the Republican Party to the Conservative Party and the Democratic Party to the Liberal Party.
There is a good reason we are a reliably red Republican state. We are indeed one of the most conservative states in America. Donald Trump will carry Alabama overwhelmingly in November and we will proudly cast our nine electoral votes for the GOP nominee for the tenth straight presidential election. We have voted for the Republican nominee in every election since 1980. A Democrat has not carried Alabama since Georgian Jimmy Carter in 1976.
The race for the White House will be fun to watch. You have a matchup of two brash, blustery New Yorkers. Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York, and Secretary of State is making history as the first woman to be the nominee of one of the two major political parties. She will also enter the fray as the favorite. The demographic changes in America and the slant of the Electoral College System favors a Democrat in the presidential selection process.
However, I contend that Donald Trump, the flamboyant New York billionaire is the best candidate the Republicans could have fielded. His contentious, bold, provocative and uninhibited statements and behavior appeal to nonpartisan independents and blue collar men in the pivotal Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
One thing is for certain, Clinton and Trump have the highest negative ratings of any presidential nominees in polling history. For years political experts have professed that a candidate cannot win an election with a negative approval rating of over 25%. Unbelievably, the polls show that Trump has a negative rating of 60% and Clinton has an unfavorable rating of 54%. That is amazing, yet one of them will be elected President of the United States.
Experts say that Trump has to tone down his rhetoric. He must build a campaign infrastructure and he must be more specific with his campaign promises and not just use slogans and code words. Hillary, first of all, needs to warm up some, if possible. She comes across as remote and distant. She must woo and attract young voters. Millennials do not trust her. She also has to fight back when Trump blasts her because believe me he will. We are probably in for the most negative presidential campaign in your lifetime.
As the campaign evolves, remember national horserace polls are irrelevant. Under the Electoral College System it is winner take all in each state. Therefore, about six pivotal swing states are the important cog in the equation. You need to know what the polls are saying in the key battleground states of Ohio and Florida.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.