Inevitable?: It will be Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump

After Super Tuesday how realistic and why is it to expect that in November it will be Hillary Clinton vesrsus Donald Trump? Read few comments.

Robert Busby, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Liverpool Hope University

Trump v Clinton would have been considered highly surprising to see the two leadership contenders go against one another if initial considerations about the structure and potential outcome of the presidential race had been seriously weighed up in 2015. However, 2016 has thrown up a range of surprising results and outcomes and it now seems ever more likely to be Trump v Clinton in November.

Clinton is almost certainly going to be the Democrat candidate. For all the spirited fight of Sanders she has the better ground game, access to funding, elite endorsements and the experience of already having waged a primary campaign in 2008 against Obama. Her problem is that the young have voted in droves for Sanders. If he drops out or fails in the long term to be the nominee what will they do – move to support Hillary or simply lose interest in the contest as a whole? Hillary also has a long track record to try to defend, which may prove difficult when seeking to deflect negativity about her political record. For the Democrats she is the ‘safe’ candidate, with experience and indications that she would be a capable leader. There is also the opportunity to elect the first female President.

Trump appears to be rewriting the rules of campaigning. He has held no political office, alienates sections of the community, and in essence just campaigns in his own way. He has benefitted from the split in the votes among the other Republicans in the race. If he were up against only one prominent establishment Republican then he may well have had a greater challenge, but both Cruz and Rubio seem intent on carrying on in the race following Super Tuesday. He has only presented a very narrow range of policies and from Trump’s own perspective the race appears to be a judgement on him as a person as much as it is about presenting a range of thought through policies. His strength is in his ability to mobilize many Americans who are discontent. Anti-establishment anger and a lack of faith in the conventional political routines give him great momentum that may well be very difficult, if not now impossible, to stop. Any criticism of Trump from the other candidates, or from the media, is bluntly dismissed as the predictable self-serving voice of the establishment and plays neatly into Trump’s own criticism of it.

It is difficult now to see how Clinton and Trump can be stopped. Clinton looks a certainty, and while Trump may cause controversy, he seems to have captured the mood of the discontented and is determined to use the Republican banner to harness their anger.

Steven GreeneAssociate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

Better question: how realistic that it won’t be Trump vs. Clinton. First, the Clinton side. Barring a major, unexpected, unforeseen change, Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders has a lot of support from white liberals, but Hillary Clinton’s utter dominance among non-white voters (a very large proportion of the Democratic electorate) seems unlikely to change and should almost surely propel her to the nomination.

On the Republican side, Trump is not quite the lock that Clinton is, but needs to be considered a very strong favorite at this point. For one thing, it seems that there is almost nothing he can say/do that would lose him supporters. He has said so many outrageous things (refusing to disavow the KKK most recently) that would seem to have sunk a typical candidate. The delegates he amassed so far, the nature of his coalition, and the polling in upcoming primary states all points to a Trump victory in the race for the Republican nomination.

Were I a betting man, I would bet heavily on Trump vs. Clinton for the general election.

Christopher Larimer, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa

First, mathematically, it is very realistic that both Clinton and Trump will be the nominees in November. Clinton has a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates, and the proportional system the party uses makes comebacks more difficult. For the Republicans, the math is on Trump’s side, meaning that they only way to stop him is at the convention which will take considerable effort and maneuvering.

Second, the other side of the question about how realistic it is to expect both in November deals with public opinion and perception. Again, I don’t see this as a problem for Clinton, but the polarizing nature of Trump’s campaign suggests public opinion/perception, particularly within the party, will make his path to the nomination more difficult than for any frontrunner in recent memory. Perhaps this is why Trump had a more toned down statement last night rather than a rally.

Mark Rozell, Acting Dean and Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University

Both Clinton and Trump are very strong positioned to be the nominees of their respective parties. Right now Clinton appears to be a sure thing, whereas there remains a path to stopping Trump, though it is looking increasingly difficult to do so.


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