The presidential race is shaping up to be unlike any the nation
has ever seen. The question of who will be each party’s nominee is a topic
being discussed in homes around the country. During the NMHC 2015 Board of
Directors and Advisory Committee Fall Meeting, luncheon speakers GOP pollster
Kellyanne Conway, founder and president of the polling company,
inc./WomanTrend, and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, president of Lake
Research Partners, discussed the evolving political landscape from both sides
of the aisle.
Less of a debate and more of a discussion of what to watch, Conway and Lake agreed on a lot, which is the reason the two were able to collaborate a few years ago on the book, What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live. In particular, there was consensus that women were the potential game-changing demographic to watch during election season. Both Conway and Lake said they felt no candidate would be successful without a solid plan to attract women voters while keeping a strong focus on jobs and the economy.
Another key takeaway was that the media is another big “X” factor during the election period; its outsized influence is due in large part to the fact that they run their own polls now. If it were up to the media, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush would be on the ticket right now.
However, Clinton has some challenges already in this campaign run. According to Conway, the U.S. is a nation of second chances, but Clinton is blowing hers. Voters don’t trust her, Democrats are distancing themselves from her and many Independents have difficulty relating to her, she said. Some argue (while others fear) that she had a better shot in 2008 than she does today. But Clinton still has some assets to leverage, not the least of which is her husband, Bill Clinton, the popular, two-term former president.
While some of the political old guard are trying to shake off challenges, outsiders like Donald Trump are successfully-and arguably surprisingly to many election watchers-gaining voter support. Trump has what Conway called the “Trump Factor,” in that he claims both hero and victim status among his supporters. As such, the normal rules do not apply to him.
However, perhaps the most important takeaway from the session was that voters are unpredictable. They have a very clever way of repeating history, and can make the impossible possible. Candidates who supposedly can’t win, can end up winning.
With that said, here’s what you need to know about today’s voters.
hot buttons. Democrats and Republicans have different priorities. Democratic
primary voters are tuned into social issues; climate change; pay and gender
equity; selective disengagement globally; active government; and issues related
to equality. Republican primary voters, on the other hand, are focused on illegal
immigration; the common core curriculum in schools; economic growth and
entrepreneurship; the role of the U.S. around the world; and Obamacare, to name
politically independent. Voters are increasingly less comfortable with the
labels of Republic and Democrat, preferring to see themselves in a more
independent, middle ground.
is important. Voters view the issues of jobs and the economy in terms of
everyday affordability and long-term financial security. A job is no longer
enough because people, especially women, are struggling every day, making hard
decisions about where to spend their money. Do they fill up the gas tank or pay
fears about economic stalling. Everyone is worried about jobs and the
economy. Americans are deeply depressed and they are sick and tired of being
sick and tired. There’s concern that perhaps we’ll be a second-rate country and
not a first-rate. And there’s concern that we’re the first generation whose
children will be less well off than we are. Watch the candidate that has the
better plan on the economy - nobody is going to win without a solid plan.
- Single mom issues on the rise. The nation is on the verge of an enormous shift in the electorate. Unmarried women are likely to outweigh married women in 2016-and many will be single moms. In fact, it’s estimated that in just six years, half of all kindergarten children are going to be the children of a single mom. With that change, issues like funding for after-school and Pre-K programs won’t even be a debate anymore.