The National Republican Senatorial Committee is urging senators up for re-election to keep their distance from Donald Trump, believing the Republican presidential frontrunner will be the party’s nominee. The committee is calling Trump a “misguided missile” who could undermine the campaigns of party members. However The Ohio State University at Newark Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Nathaniel Swigger believes it is “way, way too early” to assume Trump will be the presidential nominee. Swigger researches American politics with an emphasis on public opinion polling, political psychology, campaigns and elections, and media analysis.
“Research suggests that nominations are often decided by party elites, elected officials and party insiders, rather than by mass public,” said Swigger. “Endorsements from elected officials are often more predictive than polling numbers alone. This is why a lot of political scientists are skeptical of Trump’s chances. The party controls the process, ultimately, and more establishment figures may rally around a Trump alternative.”
According to an article in the New York Times, Executive Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Ward Baker wrote Senate Republicans a seven-page memo in September. It was written under the assumption that Trump had secured the presidential nomination. The strategist warned incumbents whose campaigns will determine whether Republicans hold their majority about the risk of being associated with Trump.
“Republicans believe, and they’re probably correct, that nominating Trump would be a disaster for the party,” said Swigger. “It is really, really hard to see a scenario where Trump actually wins a general election. They would much rather nominate a more electable candidate like Senator Marco Rubio, who has a nice image of respectability and moderation, but who is still very, very conservative on the issues.”
Swigger admits there is a chance that Trump could be the nominee because there has never been a candidate like him before. However, the picture will become clear as we move through presidential primary season.
“The closer we get the more accurate the polls will be. Iowa is notoriously difficult to poll because caucus participation is difficult to predict and often depends on the organization and efficiency of a campaign. Polls for the New Hampshire primary may even shift late in response to the results from Iowa. On the other hand, the presence of a well-known candidate and the unprecedented high level of attention may mean that voters make up their minds much sooner. The consistency of Trump’s support suggests his voters won’t defect at the last minute,” said Swigger. “There’s an assumption that Trump will fade as we get closer to the actual nominating contests, that voters will pay attention to party leadership signals and media, and choose a more traditional candidate. However, it hasn’t actually happened yet, and there’s not really any evidence, other than past experience, to suggest it’s going to happen.”
On the Democratic side, Swigger said the nominee is clear. He believes Hillary Clinton will be on the ballot in November.
“Hillary’s going to be the nominee. The Republican field is historically unique because of its size, but the Democratic field is equally weird because it’s rare to see a party line up exclusively behind one person unless that person is a sitting president,” said Swigger. “Clinton’s domination of the polls and the political endorsements and party support is virtually unprecedented in modern politics.”