Tennessee votes in the presidential primaries next week. Tuesday, March 1, has been dubbed the “SEC primary,” in which voters in our state and 12 others will go to the polls to cast their votes and narrow the field for who will be the Republican and Democratic nominees. In the unpredictable primary season that has been 2016 so far, here are some perspectives from student supporters of different candidates.
What issues are important in this election season?
Globetti explained that much of the race on the Democratic side has been dominated by economic issues such as income inequality.
“Sanders is focusing on the billionaire class and income inequality and somewhat about things such as prison reform, but it centers around income inequality,” Globetti said. “Hillary Clinton has focused on similar issues, saying that she agrees with Sanders on principle but disagrees on the path to get there.”
She also predicted that the Democrats will start focusing more on issues such as race and civil rights as they vie for votes in Tennessee and other Southern states.
On the Republican side, Globetti said that the candidates are much more focused on national security.
“[That] should hurt Trump, but he has a persona that makes people think he would be strong on terrorism,” Globetti said.
Geer suggested that Republican voters’ choices are shaped by anger and the antiestablishment sentiment prevalent in the party.
“I don’t think the Republican base is that ideological,” Geer said. “They’re angry and think Trump is being honest. There is a public reaction against candidates being too programmed and too scripted … Trump isn’t that way.”
Which candidates do you think Vanderbilt students support?
Among Vanderbilt students, Globetti expects issues such as the cost of college, income inequality and general political frustration to drive student turnout in favor of Sanders.
“One thing Sanders talks about is the cost of college tuition, and income inequality and the idea that the system is rigged,” Globetti said. “I think he taps into the disenchantment of the system, and I think the excitement and energy are a result of that.”
But among Republican students, Globetti said she senses that students at Vanderbilt are more excited by Rubio and Cruz than Trump.
“I feel like the national scene is a more pro-Trump crowd, but I’m not picking that up here,” she said.
Predictions for this election
Donald Trump’s success has caught people off guard, according to both professors.
“Trump is breaking all the rules,” Geer said. “He isn’t putting a lot of money in paid ads. Jeb Bush did and it did not get him very far. Trump has a knack for getting media attention and changing the conversation when he needs to. It’s uncanny, and I don’t know what drives it, but he is very skilled at that. So I think you have to give him high marks.”
“(Trump’s) continued dominance is expected to fade, but it hasn’t,” Globetti added. “He has continued to have high poll numbers despite a lot of negativity.”
Globetti remarked that Sanders has been a huge surprise as well and that she thought his socialistplatform would make him unelectable.
Globetti hesitantly predicted that Clinton will win the Tennessee Democratic primary, while Cruz and Trump will have the edge on the Republican side. Geer also anticipates a Clinton win in the Tennessee Democratic primary and predicted that Trump will likely win in the Tennessee Republican primary.
Globetti predicted that Clinton will be the eventual Democratic nominee.
“I think Hillary Clinton will win the nomination,” Globetti said. “I think she will be strong on Super Tuesday, and her coverage will change.”
However, Globetti added that she was unsure who the Republican nominee would be.
“There is the political scientist in me that just can’t believe Donald Trump can win because he defies all the typical laws of politics,” Globetti said. “But when I stop and think who is going to beat him, it is difficult to see who that is.”