Week in Review

Election 2016: Weekly Rundown

Audrey Bowler ‘16 – EI Campus Communications Team

As the modern world of politics and government evolves, campaigning has become a permanent fixture in social and political culture. As potential candidates prepare for the 2016 presidential election, here’s what made headlines this week:

4. Jindal Jumps In

This week, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal announced that he would form a presidential exploratory committee in preparation for the 2016 Republican primary.

This step, as well as Jindal’s recent stops in several swing states, indicate that he is taking major steps toward a run for the nomination. According to the governor, he will not announce a final decision until after  June 11, when the state’s legislative session ends.

“For some time now, my wife Supriya and I have been thinking and praying about whether to run for the presidency of our great nation,” said Jindal. “If I run, my candidacy will be based on the idea that the American people are ready to try a dramatically different direction. Not a course correction, but a dramatically different path.”

Jindal, a staunch social conservative, has faced low approval numbers in his home state, and would face plenty of competition for the GOP bid in a field already crowded with icons of social conservatism – including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and tea party darling Ted Cruz.

The governor has taken a particularly strong stance on the issue of gay marriage, stating his support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the Supreme Court from eliminating state bans. Jindal has been openly critical of the Obama administration, even signing on to the controversial letter sent by Republican senators to Iranian leadership discouraging the makings of a nuclear deal with the U.S.

While Jindal will have to fight not to be overshadowed by those already in the race, the governor is working to set himself apart from his fellow Republican presidential hopefuls.

“While other Republican leaders are talking about change,” Jindal said, “I’ve published detailed plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, rebuild America’s defenses, make America energy independent, and reform education for our nation’s children.”

Jindal’s exploratory committee launched their website on Monday to enlist volunteers and donations.

3.  Plans in Motion for Graham

On Monday, Senator Lindsey Graham said that he would announce his plans for 2016 in his home state on June 1. While Graham has not yet made a formal declaration, it’s no secret that he plans to run for the GOP nomination.

“You’re all invited to come — spend money when you do — and I will tell you what I’m going to do about running for president,” said Graham, hinted at the June 1 announcement on CBS’s “This Morning.”

The South Carolina Senator has made little effort to conceal his interest in running for the 2016 nomination, and has spent time in several early primary states during the last few months, hoping to gauge interest among voters.

In response to a question on the amount of foreign policy experience possessed by the rest of the Republican field, Graham seemed to have his mind made up.

“I’m running,” he said, “because I think the world is falling apart. I’ve been more right than wrong on foreign policy.”

While the pool of GOP candidates seems to be ever-expanding, Graham pointed to his last reelection during which he he fought off six challengers in the primary. As for accusations from other Republicans that he “works with Democrats too much,” the Senator said that he would continue to pursue bipartisanship if elected.

“In my view, Democrats and Republicans work together too little, and I would try to change that if I got to be president.”

Graham’s announcement will be held in South Carolina on June 1.

2. Hesitancy for Hillary

Although Hillary Clinton officially entered the 2016 presidential race on April 12, her formal campaign debut has been indefinitely postponed. While the unveiling of a YouTube video and a series of roundtable meetings with voters in Iowa have cemented Clinton’s place in the race, the traditional inspirational speech and kickoff rally promised by Clinton’s aides hasn’t yet been announced.

Originally planned for May, the campaign’s official roll-out has been pushed back, with a large-scale event tentatively scheduled for June. The reason? Give Clinton more time to fundraise and settle on policy positions.

“If they had their druthers, they would basically get off the front pages, let the Republicans eat themselves alive, and let her do what she needs to do: raise the money and not have to be part of the debate right now,” said one Clinton donor who’s familiar with the inner workings of the campaign. “She has 100 percent name recognition and is in a good place vis-a-vis the primary. Why put your foot on the accelerator?”

For now, the former Secretary of State is taking a whirlwind tour of the early primary states – she’ll spend this week in New Hampshire and Iowa, and will stop by South Carolina next week. As a finale, Clinton will head to Florida for a series of fundraisers.

Clinton’s campaign operatives have compared the candidate’s early events as a kind of “exploratory phase,” and seem to be comfortable experimenting with low-stakes voter outreach events.

Money appears to be the main factor driving the delay. Concern over the strength of Clinton’s fundraising strategy emerged in the face of Jeb Bush’s powerful campaign entrance. Clinton’s team hopes that taking additional time to target donors and attend fundraising events will benefit the campaign in the long-term.

The slower pace of the campaign hasn’t necessarily damaged voters’ impressions of Clinton, Iowa activists said. “This has been a very slow emergence … but I have not felt that we, as Iowans, don’t know who this person is,” said Kurt Meyer, chair of the Iowa Tri-County Democrats. “We have a full file folder on Hillary Clinton. This is not like we walk into class, and there’s a blank whiteboard.”

1. Positive GOP Perceptions

New polling shows that Republicans are more positive about the variety of GOP candidates vying for the presidential nomination than they were at the same time two years ago.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, revealed that 57% of Republican-leaning voters reported that they have a “good” or “excellent” perception of their party’s potential nominees.

In 2007, only 50% of Republican voters viewed the range of GOP contenders in a positive light. Voter approval from the same group fell to 44% in 2011.

In contrast, Democrats aren’t as pleased – data shows that they’re less positive about their potential presidential candidates than they were in 2007.

The difference may be due to diversity. While Democrats currently have only two announced candidates to choose between – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – nearly a dozen Republicans have declared or are expected to declare that they will run in 2016.

According to the poll, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee are the potential candidates viewed most favorably by Republicans. Scott Walker and Ted Cruz follow with an approval rating of just over 45%.