Title: Party Nominations & The Presidential Contest
Date: October 28, 2015
Time: 12:00 pm EST
Presenter: Dr. Lara Brown, Program Director
To prepare for your role as a successful change-leader, please view our year-end webinar presented by Dr. Lara Brown, Program Director of the Political Management online program at the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) at the George Washington University.
Diving into the opinion polls and the political talk about ninety days out from the first contest, Professor Lara Brown weighs-in on the state of the 2016 presidential nominations and takes a look at who’s winning, among which voters, and where.
[Start of recorded material]
Kira: Hi everyone and welcome to our special year-end webinar. Today we’ll get to hear from the George Washington University, the program director of our online Master’s in Political Management Program. My name is Kira and I will be your moderator. I know everyone is excited to hear from our feature speaker, so let’s go over the logistics of today’s events. Please note our participant’s conference lines are currently placed on mute or in listen only mode to ensure a smoother line of communication as this presentation is being recorded and to communicate with me, please type your messages to me via the chat box, it’s the roundish bubble icon that lights on when activated. And there’s going to be a great opportunity to have your questions answered by our speaker during the Q&A segment, so please don’t hesitate to send me your question via the chat box even while the presentation is in progress. If we are not able to get through all of your questions within the hour, we will be sure to get in touch with you after our event. And also our wonderful enrollment advisor Lalitha Racioppo will be happy to follow up with you at a later time on any program related questions.
Now let’s introduce you to our speaker, Dr Lara Brown is the program director and an associate professor of the Political Management program at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political management or GSPM. She’s also a distinguished write is the sole author of the recent book titled Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants. Dr Brown is also a regular contributor to the US News and World Report Thomas Jefferson Street blog and is quoted regularly in leading media outlets nationwide. Dr Brown previously served as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Villanova University. Prior to returning to academia, she worked as an education policy and public affairs consultant. Dr Brown also served as … In President William J Clinton’s administration at the US Department of Education and she earned her BA, MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles. And she also earned an MA in American Politics and public policy from the University of Arizona. Welcome Dr Brown and to all of our attendances. Dr Brown, please take the stage.
Dr Brown: Thanks Kira, it’s great to be on the call with all of you … Thank you for tuning in. I’m excited to talk a little bit today about our presidential nomination process and at the end of kind of our discussion about how nominations work and how they work the way they do we’ll certainly get into the 2016 nominations and how they appear to be shaping up. I thought his would be a good time and a good topic to go over some of the actual kind of political and historical development of how we got here and also some of the real procedural and rules that really do end up affecting how the nomination turn out, given that we’re less … I think we’re about a 100 days from the Iowa Caucus which will be the first contest on February 1st this year and it should be certainly an interesting and exciting time. So let me move to the next slide. So what I wanted to really first talk about is that nominations don’t happen in a vacuum, right. These nominations occur as a part of a political party and as a part of a process of a party’s growth and development and change over the timeframe in essentially our politics. So one of the things that’s really interesting when you think about how a primary nomination looks is to realize that a lot of what’s going on has to do with what the political party has been going through or dealing with for the last few years.
This is not a kind of separate process and this doesn’t happen completely outside of the political party. For that matter one of my favourite which I regularly employ is one by John Aldrich who’s a professor at Duke University and he once said that yes it is true that anybody can grow up to be president of the United States, but that is only true if one grows up to be one of the major party nominees. And therein lies the trick and that is really something that we don’t talk a lot about in terms of our election system, because we somewhat think that the process is just completely open and wide ranging and while we do have a lot of candidates who do declare and this year we have more that have declared in a Republican contest in any election, we should also remember that we have about 330 million people in the United States … So when you’re talking about fewer than two dozen individuals who would like to be president and who are running for that and you’re talking about the fact that they have to essentially secure one of these nominations, what you realize is that in fact the nominations are a very exclusive process, they are not necessarily an inclusive one. And much of as I was saying what goes on in terms of the political parties, is understanding that the strength of a political party varies, the cohesion and the unity of a political party vary. And coalition change their shape, they change who they appeal to and the different factions end up with essentially different levels of strength or influence in any one moment in time.
So one of the things that’s important when you look at 2016 is to take a look at where both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are. Oddly enough despite the fact that the Democrats are controlling the White House, they are an incredibly weak party at every other level within the United States. They do not hold the majority in the senate, they House of Representatives, nor do they hold the majority of governorship, nor do they hold the majority of state legislatures and for that matter it’s pretty striking when you look across the country at these lower levels. The Republicans right now control about 70 percent of state legislative seats. In addition there are 25 states that are currently under unified Republican control, meaning that they have a Republican State Legislature and they have a Republican governor. Democrats on the other hand only have unified control in seven states. The remaining are essentially mixed, but what that really tells you is that at the grassroots level across the country the Republicans are in fact in a very strong position, the Democrats are in a very weak position and yet because the democrats are holding the White House and they’re held it for the last seven years, there is the appearance that the Democratic Party is in a very strong place. Now let me tell you that this is a very typical cycle, usually when parties hold the White House, so much energy and effort goes into essentially keeping the White House and doing politics at the national level, that often times the party essentially decays at the lower level and it usually take them being ousted from the presidency in order to rehabilitate and grow the grassroots space. And I think that’s what you can see the Republicans have done since George W Bush was ousted after his two terms in office and the Republicans were no longer in the White House.
So there is a very fascinating kind of rotating and varying [strength] that does depend upon who is sitting where and where the party’s energy and emphasis is really going. The other thing that matters a great deal and that varies a lot is the brand popularity of a political party. When we talk about the parties as brands, we can think of the Democrats and the Republicans as being kind of like Coke and Pepsi whereby people are attracted to one brand or another at different points in time for varying reasons. The one thing that is very true is that when a party is holding the White House and the economy goes through a severe downturn, it hurts that party’s brand popularity and it takes quite a long time for a party to recover from that. You can actually go back and see what happened in the Great Depression when Herbert Hoover, the Republican was in office and the Wall Street crash happened in 1929, FDR who was a Democrat took over in 1932 and really the Republicans were not able to run competitively again until 1952. And in fact in 1952 they had to reach for a general who had had very little party associations, but had been kind of [lionized] as s general for all of his efforts in World War II to put up as their party nominee to try to restore the Republican brand.
So again one of the things that’s interesting is how long kind of the branding lasts and what it leads to in terms of voters being attracted to a party or not. One of the realities in our current cycle is that George W Bush was in office when our economy fell, that has certainly hurt the Republican brand, but as I said the Republicans had been working hard to kind of rebuild at the grassroots level. And then what in fact you see is that the Democrats while they have been in office, many people feel the economy has not really turned around and that there hasn’t been enough of an increase in the number of available jobs … [In the wages] of individuals. In fact Democrats are making the argument that economic inequality is in some ways worse than ever. In the last debate Hilary Clinton said it hasn’t been this bad since the 1920’s and yet the Democrats are in the White House, that is hurting their brand popularity. So one of the things that’s fascinating going into this election is we actually see that both parties’ brands are diminished and they are not necessarily as strong as you would want them to be. In addition this issue about cohesion and unity, this varies a great deal. One of the realities is that the Democrats because they have had the held the White House, because many people who are Democrats have essentially fallen in line with Barack Obama and his view of the Democratic Party, meaning that it is focussed on kind of women, minorities and younger millennials who are looking at kind of to be what we call the creative class, right … These younger entrepreneurs, that has really been Barak Obama’s base. And because of that the Democratic Party is fairly well unified among that vision of the Democratic Party. Whether or not Hilary Clinton is able to keep that unity is a question mark, we know that her past history is that she has appealed more to blue colour workers and to union voters than she has necessarily to this creative class which are populating her campaign in Brooklyn.
But needless to say the Democrats are more unified … The Republicans we have seen them [divided] and having factional fights, really [since] the Tea Party started winning offices back in 2010. If you look what’s happening in the congress right now, the discussion about the budget deal, the Republican presidential candidates who are in the senate have already said they won’t back it. In fact Rand Paul has argued that he will mount filibuster and yet it is his fellow Republicans in the house … Former speaker John Boehner who helped to negotiate this deal with a Democratic White House. So the Republicans are much more [split] … That said also important to realize that this is one of those common things. When a party gets large, it tends to have more fights and the Republicans are very large right now. So these are some of the things that are going on. We know that the presidential aspirants are essentially fighting for the soul of the party in terms of what will be that party’s platform, who will they represent, what will their brand come to mean. We can all in our own mind understand that the Republican Party will be a very different party if Senator Ted Cruz becomes the presidential nominee or if neurosurgeon Ben Carson does or if current governor of Ohio John Kasich does. The party will look different and the party will likely have a different prioritization of its factions depending on who wins.
So these issues are important and I think it’s you know a key way to understand what is happening in these nominations. Republicans are more factionalized, but they are also stronger, they have more energy and in some ways much broader reach at the grassroots level than the Democrats do, but the Democrats are unified and they are currently holding the White House, so they are in some ways in a position of strength, because they’re very cohesive. So let’s talk about how do we do nominations, because I do think we kind of skip over this piece when we think about this nomination process. We sort of just assume that Iowa and New Hampshire have always been kind of the first [unintelligible 0:17:53] contest and this is how things happen. Well the reality is that the framers of the constitution didn’t really envision a- that we would have political parties or b – that there would essentially be a party nomination process. What they did was they created an Electoral College. And in the Electoral College what they assumed would happen was that electors would gather in their states and essentially put forward some names. They didn’t imagine that the names that would be put forward would earn the majority of the electors’ votes when you added them up across the nation, they knew that only George Washington could do something that incredible. So they what they envisioned was that the Electoral College would essentially produce a group of people, somewhere between three to five names of notable individuals and then what would happen is that those names would be forwarded to the US House of Representatives, where the House of Representatives would divide by state delegation and then the US House of Representatives in this form of state ballots would essentially select the president.
Now I think if we take a step back we would be shocked, right … The American people would not even believe that the House of Representatives was originally the way we imagined presidents would sort of be finally chosen. That in fact the Electoral College was a nomination process in and of itself. Well what happened was that those early framers who ended up becoming the founders of not just our country, but the founders of the political party system realized that it was much easier to essentially rig the Electoral College vote than it was to influence the House of Representatives. So what happened was as early as the 1790’s Thomas Jefferson and James Madison started to organize slates of electors in the different states. When all of those slates got together, they knew that they would select Thomas Jefferson and that was essentially how the Electoral College became the final place for a president rather than if you will the nomination process for choosing presidents.
But there is still this question that then came about which was well who gets to choose who the electors are going to vote for in the Electoral College. In other words how do we decide if it’s not sort of this gentleman’s agreement of Thomas Jefferson to James Madison to James Monroe, how do we decide who a party should essentially tell all of its electors in all of the states to vote for. And originally the process for doing that was referred to as the King Caucus. And what that really meant was that the party groups in congress, so right now we would call it the Republican conference in Washington and the Democratic Caucus in Washington, would essentially have these private meetings and they would each select who their party would essentially put forward for president of the United States. And then they would get word out to all of their loyal partisans that that was the slate that they should vote for. So originally right, it was Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was the slate that should be voted for. And these president and vice president just became directive and formalizing through the Electoral College this if you will nomination process that happened in Washington.
Again I think the American public would be shocked if they thought that Washington … Those partisans here who are house members and senators would essentially be the ones nominating the president and then later might either select them in the House of Representatives or if they were able to secure the majority of votes in the Electoral College select a president. So how this whole system failed was that in 1824 you had a series of very ambitious aspirants who were running. You had Andrew Jackson who was a general who had just had a major win in the war of 1812 in the Battle of New Orleans. He had been a territorial governor, he had also served for about eight months in the US Senate. Andrew Jackson was very ambitious and he wanted to be president. You had John Quincy Adams who had been James Monroe’s Secretary of State, in fact John Quincy Adams is probably the most significant Secretary of State we’ve ever had. He is the one who wrote and put into practice and persuaded President Monroe to create what we lived under for over a hundred years, which was the Monroe Doctrine. John Quincy Adams was from Massachusetts, he was essentially running for president.
You also had Henry Clay who is a very well known US house member and senator from Kentucky. He is probably one of our most important statesmen going back. He also was involved in ending the war of 1812, he was part of the negotiating party along with John Quincy Adams over in the Treaty of Ghent. Interestingly enough Henry Clay was at that moment speaker of the House of Representatives, so you had the speaker, you had a Secretary of State and you had a very popular governor who were all running for president. And yet who did the King Caucus nomination go to? Well it went to a person by the name of William Crawford. William Crawford was the Secretary of the Treasury under James Monroe. The reason why it went to him is because he was from Virginia and Virginians had just had this kind of unbroken 24 year dynasty in the presidency of Jefferson and then Madison and then Monroe and they were looking to pass off the presidency one more time to another Virginian. The reality is that Crawford might have been a good candidate, his campaign was managed by Martin Van Buren, but what in fact happened was that he had a stroke and was literally incapacitated. And not long after he was almost completely blind and almost fully paralyzed, was that the King Caucus awarded him the presidential nomination.
Well as you might imagine all of these other ambitious politicians jumped up and basically said this is ridiculous and illegitimate, we can’t pick our nominees from Washington and among the partisans in Washington, we have to start including people in the states. And interestingly enough there then sort of an experimental period where the state legislatures would pass resolutions putting forward people to be presidential nominees. Eventually come 1832 the Democrats decide … Andrew Jackson decides when he’s president to create a national party convention and a national party convention was a gathering of state politicos once every four years to select a nominee. And interestingly enough we didn’t actually change that process until it had an undoing in 1968 and essentially the process didn’t change until 1972. So for more than a 100 years we had national conventions where state politicos went there, they were in the back rooms with cigars and a lot of alcohol and they chose the nominee. That’s how we ended up with most of the presidents that we had, is that they were selected through that process. Since 1972 our national conventions are now different … What happens is we now have these primary [and caucuses] that candidates run in all across the country and by them winning, they don’t just win if you will the election, they actually win delegates and the goal for all of these candidates whether they’re on the Democratic side or the Republican side is to win national party delegates who are bound to vote for them at the convention.
So by winning you’re awarded a certain number … Well get into this in a second … And what then happens is when everybody goes to the national convention, they take the vote, but the vote is essentially already done. So these national conventions now are really ratifications of the contest winner. And at these conventions you approve a platform, there is sort of this moment where the party tries to celebrate and reunify after these bitter primary contest, but it’s still important to think about you know why do Iowa and New Hampshire go first. Well the only reason they really go first is because when we first started experimenting with primaries and caucuses … These state based contests, they scheduled them first and that sort of history then became institutionalized. But there’s no magical reason other than just they were kind of the first to schedule them early and once they scheduled them early and they realized the political advantage of doing so, they then fought for and made sure that they would always be first in all of the subsequent elections. I’m not going to go into why the delegates changed in nature, right … Prior to 1968 these delegates were kind of [free of hand] and could do whatever they wanted at the convention. After 1972 when we reformed the process, these delegates were now bound to the people in … That won their state contest.
But I will say that all of it had to do with the 1968 nominations of Hubert Humphrey whereby he had not run in any primary and he was essentially going to be promoting Lyndon Johnson’s current Vietnam War policy. The antiwar activists were very upset about this and they protested in Chicago and the convention essentially broke down on national television. If you’re interested you can do some YouTube searches of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and you will see it was quite a contentious event. And essentially what happened was many Democrats believed that Hubert Humphrey was an illegitimate nominee. So not unlike William Crawford being thought an illegitimate nominee way back in 1824, many Democrats believed Hubert Humphrey was. And the Democratic Party then went on to change the process and they changed the way the state contest played out. They were no longer what we called [beauty] contests, but they were in fact events where people won or lost delegates. So what I want to just say is now we’re in this world where delegates are chosen through a series of state contests, be they primaries or be they caucuses … About 75 percent of the state tend to use primaries. The biggest difference between a primary and a caucus, is a caucus is considered a party event, the political party itself has to pay for the cost of it. A primary is considered a state election, so the state actually pay for the cost of those elections.
The other big difference between them is you have much, much larger turnout in primaries than you do in caucuses. It is not unusual in the Iowa Caucus to only have a couple hundred thousand people on both sides of the isle turn out essentially in both of the Republican and Democratic contest. In fact it was a huge deal that in 2008 the Democrats were able to attract 125,000 to their caucus event. So what you’re really talking about at the end of the day is a very small number of people still are choosing who the party nominees are. There are more people than ever who are engaged in this process, but it is still a very small number. And what that really means is that at the end of the day were the party nominees to be seen as unacceptable to the vast majority of Americans or even to the vast majority of partisans within their party who did not vote in these early contests, it would not be all that surprising to see us change our nominations process again. Because all of this comes down to this question that has structured this process from day one, which is who chooses … Who gets to choose.
Boss Tweed who was a Tammany Hall political boss said many years ago I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating. And this is where again if you’re not involved in primaries, you’re not involved in your party, I would argue that this is the most important place to be involved, because it is in primaries and it is in these party nominations where in fact the party determines who it is and what it represents. And this is why these contests can also be so bitter and so difficult. One of the realities of primaries is they tend to be more character focussed and issue focussed, because most people who are Republicans all sort of agree generally with each other on most issues. All people who are Democrats generally agree with each other on most issues. So when you end up having to have elections that are intraparty rather than interparty, they must find areas of differentiation and those areas are usually personality based, character based and biography based. So this is why you can see a lot of attacks or a lot of sort of [sniping] at what people have done and who they are and how they are kind of running, right.
So whether Carly Fiorina was a successful businesswoman at HP matters a lot more to many other Republicans than does her sort of issue set … What she believes in, because she agrees with most of them on most of those things. Okay let me just say a couple of other things that are important. Frontloading is a process whereby every single election year or presidential election year I should say the states all try to outdo each other by moving forward in the process. They all want to be Iowa or New Hampshire. A few years back the parties basically said enough of this frontloading, what we’re going to do is we’re going to disincentivize moving contests forward. So for instance right now both political parties have decided that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are the first four contests, those contests will happen in February. They have agreed that they are opening a window for all other states to schedule their contest starting March 1st, but for instance the Republicans have said all of those contests between March 1st and March 14th must allocate their delegates proportionally, not in a winner take all basis. And they said if you come after … If you come after March 14th, you will be able to allocate in a winner take all fashion. What does that mean? Well it means if you run in Texas, which Texas is currently scheduled for those middle two weeks of March, if you won 25 percent of the vote, you would basically win 25 percent of the delegates … Whereas if you wait essentially and run in Florida, on March 15th Florida will be able to allocate all of its delegates to the winner.
So if someone were to win Florida, they would get all of the delegates, even if they won say with 35 percent of the vote, they would get a 100 percent of the delegates. And so the reason for doing this was to try to basically incentivize the states to hold their contest later, because if they meant more to the candidates in terms of delegates, then they hope those states would stretch out the process. But I can tell you that 40 percent of the delegates will have actually been selected and distributed by basically March 15th. So what we’re seeing is that a substantial portion of the Republican contest, which is really where the excitement is … This cycle, will happen between February 1st and March 15th. In other words by March 16th the Republicans should have a pretty good idea about the one or two people who are left in the process who have a legitimate chance at the nominations. One of the other things that’s important is that again there’s very low turnout in these contests. And what that means and what this goes back to is that a very small percentage of the American public is really engaged in voting for the presidential nominee. And when you think about the fact that it’s these contests that set the stage for the November presidential election, it’s these contests that determine you know who the nominee is for your political party, it’s a pretty extraordinary issue.
And I think again most people don’t really think about this. One of the realities of these voters is that they do tend to be wealthier, more educated and more politically active … As a result it’s not unusual to end up with party nominees who are also slightly more kind of extreme in their views than the general public. This is part of the reason why the general public almost every presidential election will tell you they wish they had other choices than those people who were the party nominees. And this is again I think an interesting [unintelligible 0:39:48] and will make for great [fodder] and conversation later on. Primaries … There are different types of primaries and again this matters in terms of who gets elected. There are closed primaries which the definition is basically that you must be registered for one political party prior to Election Day in order to be able to vote in that party’s primary. So if you were registered as an independent and you were here in Washington DC, you would not be able to vote in the primary, you must be registered as either a Republican or a Democrat to vote in their party’s presidential primary. Again this process ends up excluding a lot of people from this what I would argue is a pretty critical you know presidential choice. In addition open primaries happen in Iowa and New Hampshire … Well Iowa is actually an open caucus, but what that basically means is you don’t have to decide until the day of … So you don’t have to be pre-registered to show up and vote in that party’s contest, you just have to on the day of the contest determine which party you would like to vote in. [Top two primaries or another type of primary], but they are not used in presidential elections where we allocate votes. They are a type of primary that’s used in essentially Louisiana and California whereby it doesn’t matter what party you’re from, everybody is on the same ballot and the top two winners are the ones who go onto a general election.
Again these systems do make a difference in terms of the outcome. You might imagine open primaries allow people who haven’t necessarily thought about what their party identification is to go and cast ballots for their preferences, whereas a closed primary restricts the people who essentially restricts the electorate to those people who have already committed to being a partisan. So our system in some ways right is not at all as open as we I think like to pretend it is. So one last thing I’m going to say about this, is that it’s important to realize that parties don’t like primaries and they don’t like primaries because they are unpredictable and a lot of things can happen in them that make them not within their control and then they worry that something that is not within their control may harm their party brand. So not only can you end up with unappealing nominees, but you don’t really get to do the recruiting of the candidates, right I think if you ask the Republicans … The Republican National Committee would they have wanted Donald Trump in their race or to call himself a Republican, I’m not so sure they would say yes. And this again kind of makes one recognize how kind of contested and difficult this process is. Primaries also do tend to create divisiveness among the different factions.
If you remember back to 2008, many of Obama’s supporters and Hilary’s supporters had a tough time reconciling and coming back together and being behind the party. In fact if you look at the party, today those factions still exist. In addition if a party doesn’t pick you to be a nominee, then the problem is they also can’t keep you accountable for a vote and you can see this in congress right now. All of the people who are Republicans who do not want to vote for this budget deal, the Republican Party has no essentially sway over them. They cannot say – hey we picked you to be our guy or our gal and guess what you have to vote this way, tough I don’t care if you like it. The party can’t say that, because every single one of those people can say I won a primary, I got myself to congress, I can vote whatever way I want and whatever way I feel my constituents want me to vote. So this is part of why we also have more divisiveness and conflict … This is very different than a parliamentary system where parties are much stronger and parties in fact do the selecting of those who are going to run. Okay, the next thing I just want to do in the next few minutes before I take some questions is talk a little bit about the 2016 nominations.
As I mentioned the Democrats as a party are relatively weak, they have the White House, but they are weak at the grassroots level. In addition Hilary Clinton who looks to be very strong and is likely to prevail without much of a fight in her nomination, in fact may end up being fairly weak because she did not have to take on sort of other candidates and she is not really necessarily in a kind of you know prepped position, right. You can think about when you’re watching sports, if your team is always playing kind of weaker teams, you’re not really going to play at your peak performance. In fact usually the teams that have to play the toughest opponents are usually the ones that get … Sort of become the best and become much, much better and stronger for it. So the Democrats are a little bit in that situation. The Republicans have this other problem where they have a huge field with a lot of legitimate aspirants, but in fact Donald Trump and the amount of kind of airtime he is taking up, it’s crowding out many of the other candidates.
There is this overall atmosphere underlying both these parties’ nominations that has to do with kind of where we are as a public and neither party necessarily has a strong response to it. You can see Bernie Sanders mounting a kind of populous response that is building off of what was originally kind of the Occupy Wall Street movement and you can say Ben Carson and Ted Cruz and even Donald Trump to a certain extent building off of some of what was the Tea Party movement. There are high levels of dissatisfaction in this country and as I mentioned earlier while we have a better economy than it was seven years ago, it is still weak. In addition we have a foreign policy environment that is incredibly insecure and uncertain. We don’t know where we are with Russia, it appears that we’re going to be putting troops on the ground in Syria, we are you know frightened and worried about the growth of [ISIS]. We don’t know how long [Assad] will be in power and for that matter you know Libya which we did [depose] the leader has yet to essentially stabilize or become anything other than a haven for terrorist organizations. So we have a lot of … A fear about the world out there … And I’m going to flip through these charts very quickly.
You know Kira will be able to give you or distribute this PowerPoint to you and you can take a look at them later. But it’s just important to give you a sense of how restless the public is. First of all the majority of the public … 60 percent believe that the federal government has too much power right now, there is very little trust, right … Less than a majority actually believe and trust that the government would do the right thing, will be able to handle international and foreign problems. In addition you know 75 percent of Americans believe that the government is corrupt, that is a you know kind of shockingly large number. We also have you know a reality that neither the president nor congress is approved of by most people in the country. You know congress in fact their overall approval rating has been down in sort of the low double digits and it’s pretty amazing when you think they’re pretty much a sort of a friends and family of congress in terms of who approves the job that they’re doing. In addition as I said the party brands are not much [liked], the Democrats are in a little bit better position than the Republicans. The Democrats are about 43 percent, the Republicans are at 38, but the strange part about the public is while the party brands may [unintelligible 0:49:35] that way, when you actually ask them about specific issues, the Republican party holds an advantage over the Democratic one both on doing a better job of keeping the United States prosperous and protecting the country from foreign threats. So you have this kind of bipolar response with people where they say oh yeah I like the Democrats better than I like the Republicans, but then when you ask them about issues, they say no I think the Republicans would do that better than the Democrats. So we’re a little bit schizophrenic in how we’re viewing things.
In addition a huge number of Americans believe that we should essentially have a third political party. Now most of that variation is actually coming from the Republicans and again no surprise, because the Republicans are very large right now and when parties get larger, they do tend to split along their factional line. So there are the Tea Partiers or the House Freedom Caucus and those establishment Republicans who would like [and view] their issues to be separate enough that they almost want a different party. When you look at Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Hilary Clinton is by far surpassing Bernie Sanders. At the end of the day and this is something I don’t think people should lose sight of … Bernie Sanders is running a strong campaign, he is challenging Hilary Clinton, he is moving her positionally further to the left, but there are really no numbers or data out there which suggest that he would eventually be able to win nomination. And so you know Hilary’s favourable rating among Democrats is much higher than Bernie Sanders.
When you look at the Republicans, the interesting part about the Republicans is that Donald Trump is really not in sort of a great place of favourability, right. His net favourable score is 21 percent, even though most Americans know who he is … 93 percent they are familiar with him. Ben Carson has a very different profile, he’s very favourable … [Unintelligible 0:52:06] very favourably among Americans or I should say among those Republicans and those who lean towards the Republican Party. He’s also fairly well known … When you look at that sort of list Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina had proved … I would argue that those four candidates are probably going to be in this race for quite a while. More so than say a Donald Trump or a Jeb Bush, who may have the money to stay in the race, but may not eventually have the support to win delegates and win the nomination. And this is a copy of the calendar, this is what the RNC essentially put out. What you can see is that in the list of states on the left are essentially the states in order of the number of delegates that they will receive. The list of states on the right are those states in order of their primary or caucus contest. Obviously in order to win Republicans need more than I think 1,360 if I recall correctly … I’d have to go back and look, but it is a majority of the total number of delegates that exist. And so what you’re talking about is that if you’re going to win, you’re going to have to not just win percentages in these proportional states, you’re going to have to win the winner take all states. And this means you’re going to have to support your campaign definitely through March 15th, if not through essentially April 1st.
So there is a large challenge for any Republican that is running for office to be able to sustain that kind of national effort and organizational hurdle. So overall let me just say that when we look at these two races, there is a reality that frontrunners don’t usually win, but it is also true that presidential nominations are not wide open affairs. We usually don’t see people winning the nomination who weren’t kind of in the top three or four when the nomination process began. And why that is, is because at the end of the day you’re talking about a party contest, you have to win your party. And usually the people who win their party are people who have been trying to win their party for the last four years since basically the last presidential election happened. For the Republicans the calendar is going to matter a great deal, the who wins and who places first, second and third will also matter. And that’s where we get this phrase called [Mo] and what we mean by that is momentum. The momentum will carry some of these candidates if they [can post] wins. But that’s the key, you have to post a win and if you end up lower than expectation, you are very quickly kind of ushered out of the process.
Hilary on the other hand is really likely to be the only serious Democrat. I imagine Sanders will put up something of a fight and garner some of the delegates in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, but at the end of the day by the time Florida rolls around in March, I don’t know that I believe Bernie Sander would still be around. So that’s the shape of the race, that’s where we are in 2016. I want to just before we take some questions, talk a little bit about our program. It is true that I direct the Political Management Program. Our program is fully online as well fully on campus. So if you’re in the Washing DC area, you’re more than welcome to apply for and take classes here on campus. If you’re not in the Washington DC area and you’re working in a great job and you want to do the Political Management Master’s Program to help you kind of get to the next level in your political career, you absolutely can do that. Generally speaking they are very similar. We have classes that are offered in both formats, but there are some slight differences … So for instance in Washington DC the final elective is a capstone course that I actually teach called Political Power and Practice. If you’re in the online program, the final three credits … Your capstone project class is called the Washing Residency. And what that is about is that five weeks of the class you are online and engaged in doing research, one week out of that six week term you come to Washington and we introduce you to the stakeholders here, to our other students and alum, to faculty and there is essentially a full week intensive here in DC.
Then one of the things that is also different between the programs, is that in the online program there are actually three semesters, but six terms. So students take two classes each semester, but they take them sequentially. So what they do is you take one class for six weeks, you have a two week break and then you take one class for six weeks. On campus most students take two classes a semester, but you take them simultaneously. Classes on campus runs … Essentially each one runs once a week, so the vast majority of students are taking two classes every week on campus from 7:10 to 9:40. Again these are just kind of two different formats, but the content is essentially the same. And really what they do is they allow people to work fulltime, do a master’s program part-time and finish after about two years or six semesters taking classes year round. There are 36 total credit hours and there are four introductory requirements and there are seven electives. Why we think this is important is that many, many students and I will say this as a political scientist, as somebody who loves political science theory, as somebody who does real research and is fascinated by the [causal] mechanisms in politics, that’s not what we teach here.
What we teach here is applied politics, we are here to help those students who want to have jobs in politics, who want to work essentially in a lot externally [facing] jobs. So whether those jobs are Chief of Staff, whether they are Communications Director or Digital Director or Government Affairs Director or Public Affairs Director or even a [unintelligible 0:59:49] consultant or a top you know vice president at an advocacy firm or a public affairs firm, that’s really what we do. We’re interested in helping those who want to understand how to work in politics, how to do so and how to advance. As you can see from this chart, a Political Science Master’s is really kind of the starting point to go forward and to get a PhD … It really leads to jobs in academia. If you are interested in public policy and you want to continue on doing research, those master’s degrees for the most part really do lead to researcher jobs at places like a congressional research office or a think-tank you know around Washing and around the world, but they are policy jobs, they are research jobs, meaning they are not necessarily externally facing jobs where you engage with either the public or the congress or other politico.
And law school is really for those who want to be attorneys. Do not go to law school because you think it will help you in politics, there is too much that has happened in the political world to make law school the right educational path to one in politics. The reality is if you’re going to be in politics today, you need to understand digital and data, you need to understand what you are doing if you are putting together a full campaign, a law school will not teach you that, they will teach you about torts and briefs. And those are important things if you want to be an attorney. But if your path is politics, then it shouldn’t be through law school. The other thing you should know is that we have some extraordinary alums, in fact on the slide it says that Anne Caprara is the VP of Campaigns at EMILY’s List … She is no longer that, she has had a new job, she is now the Executive Director at Priorities USA Action which is the [Super Pack] that is essentially supporting Hilary Clinton’s efforts. So Matt Rhoades who had been Mitt Romney’s campaign manager and is now essentially the founder of America Rising, which is a Republican opposition research Super Pack.
And Anne Caprara are in some ways in this election cycle working against each other and yet you can see they both won the Alumni Achievement Award, they both know each other well, they both teach and do things for our program. The application requirements are fairly simple. There’s an online application, there’s a fee, you need to write a statement of purpose, you need to submit your current resume, you need three letters of recommendation and all of your official transcripts. If you have an undergraduate GPA that is higher than a 3.0 you can essentially get a waiver for the GRE. So you do not need to submit GRE scores if you’re undergraduate was higher than that. And that’s really where we are. So let me just in our last few minutes take some questions for all of you who have hung on. I know that we are accepting applications for the following term and our spring deadline is December 7th, so if you are interested, please do reach out to our enrollment advisor … Let her know whether or not you’re interested in the online program or the on campus program. We do have different advisors for this two different processes and platforms. So just let us know and with that I’ll take a few questions.
Kira: Thank you so much Dr Brown. So we are just a few minutes over time and I really appreciate you being here for the extra time and just enjoying our webinar. So Dr Brown you mentioned earlier you know the spotlight of our successful alumni, can you give us a picture of just you know the profiles of the students in the program and how the program has enabled them to achieve you know their political career paths and the kind of skills that they’re able to attain … Just basically the goals and the outcomes that this program has garnered for our students.
Dr Brown: Sure, so one of the things that is true is we have some pretty extraordinary alumni. You know as I mentioned both Matt Rhoades and Anne Caprara are you know top operatives in the Republican and Democratic Party respectively and they are well-known and they have done a tremendous amount at their relatively young ages. But when you look over the sort of vast expanse of all of our alums, they’re really pretty unbelievable. I was actually just in New Hampshire and Iowa the week before, meeting with our alumni in both those places. I also have had an number of meetings here in Washington DC and I think what you can see is that by and large our alums as I said end up in externally facing type jobs. So for instance one of our alums is at the Packard Foundation in Silicon Valley and what he does is he’s actually one of the top communication officers for the Packard Foundation. So even though the Packard Foundation is focussed on science, education and does very little in the political world, his skills and what he learned here enabled him to be their communication director. He is the one who helps them plan all of their kind of communication strategies for how they’re going to talk about their foundation’s awards, how they’re going to publicize who won the grant, how they’re going to essentially highlight some of the [unintelligible 1:06:27] that the Packard Foundation is funding … He is the one who directs all of that.
In addition you can see we have a number of alums at places like Edelman or Fleishmann-Hillard, which are two large public affairs firms that essentially do that type of consulting to organizations. We also have a number of alumni who are on Capitol Hill who are serving in positions you know as everything from Chief of Staff to Press Secretary to Communications director. We also have you know alumni who have decided that they want to run and be in office themselves. One of our alums … In fact two of our alums that I had conversations with while I was out in Iowa, one is actually the mayor of a small town in Indiana, another one is the mayor of a small town in Nebraska. Another one of our alums in fact running for the Iowa State House in the Des Moines area. So we have alumni who are actively engaged in politics, who are elected officials, they’re campaign managers, they’re chief of staff, they are press secretaries. We also as I said have a number of alums who end up sort of more in either and advocacy or corporate world position whereby they are you know doing … One of our alums is in fact the online director for Hilton Worldwide, right … He does all of the digital communications for Hilton. We have another alum who recently graduated who is currently doing all of the social media communications for the RNC. And again what this program really does is help you understand how to be a professional in the world of external relations, meaning communications, media relations, public affairs or government affairs or some other branch that is more specified like digital communications or social media communications. And our classes really are tailored to help those students understand how to do those professions.
Kira: Thank you so much Dr Brown. So … As well to our attendees for taking the time from your busy day and spending time you know during your lunch hour with us. I really appreciate your being here and I hope this session had been beneficial, it’s been insightful for you as you get to know our program and to understand the history of the US presidential nomination process and to get to hear firsthand from our Program Director. If you would like join our fantastic network of alumni and become a GW alum, with a Master’s in Political Management Program, please get in touch with [unintelligible 1:09:29]. She is currently accepting applications for the upcoming start dates in January, as well as March and the deadline as you can see it is December 7th, so there is time to put together your application portfolio. She can be reached at 188-898-97067 extension 3361 and her email address is just beneath her telephone number there on your screen. And we look forward to welcoming you to the GW family … Something that’s going to stay with you for the rest of your professional … Political and professional career. So thank you everyone and enjoy the rest of the year and we hope to have you join us in 2016. Once again thank you Professor Brown and goodbye everyone.
Dr Brown: Bye.
Kira: Bye now.
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