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Associate Professor of Political Science, Missouri State University Poll Research Center
Associate Professor of Political Science, Missouri State University Poll Research Center

2016 Politics Outlook: Brian Calfano

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Brian Calfano and The MSU Poll Research Center will be polling on the economy and statewide races in this important election year.

2016 Prediction Hillary Clinton will win the presidential race, barring a campaign collapse under the weight of mounting investigations and allegations.

SBJ: Will it be Hillary vs. Trump in the presidential election? How do you see the primaries shaking out and why?
Brian Calfano: No. Hillary vs. Cruz, Rubio, Christie or Bush. It may take a floor vote at the convention, but Donald Trump will not be the GOP nominee.

Trump’s support is relatively deep, but he is not a second or tertiary choice among the majority of GOP primary voters. As other contenders begin to drop out of the race, Trump is less likely than some of his competitors to be a go-to backup for votes if their preferred candidate doesn’t make it.

SBJ: What are the key political issues for 2016? The economy? Terrorism? Gun control?
Calfano: Social issues – and I would include gun control in that list – will not drive a presidential election. 2016 will either be about the economy, international terrorism or perhaps both.

SBJ: Who’s your pick to win the presidency and why?
Calfano: Assuming that her campaign doesn’t collapse under the weight of mounting investigations and allegations, I expect Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.

Similar to 2012, the Republican candidates are too far right for voters in swing states such as Ohio to stomach, and even though major party candidates try to move to the center for the general election, none of the likely GOP nominees will be able to shake off perceptions their policy preferences are too far to the right.

In assessing this, it’s important to remember that what passes for politically acceptable in southwest Missouri is far from the norm across the territory involved in a 50-state campaign. Today’s GOP is simply too far right to win the White House absent a major stumble by the Democratic nominee.

SBJ: Who will get the Republican nomination for governor? Also, do you expect Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster or the GOP nominee to win the state race?
Calfano: No telling on the GOP side, but I think Koster probably has the edge at this point. Missourians are comfortable with the idea of a conservative Democrat in the governor’s mansion, particularly since both chambers of the legislature are so heavily Republican.

SBJ: Any chance Gov. Jay Nixon or Sen. Claire McCaskill are candidates for the vice presidential ticket under Hillary?
Calfano: It’s doubtful that either would be tapped for the VP position. Neither can (deliver) Missouri for the Democrats in a presidential race. Both are good candidates for cabinet positions in a Clinton administration though.

SBJ: What will the MSU Poll Research Center be surveying this year?
Calfano: We will be polling on the economy and statewide races.

SBJ: At the state level, what are the key legislative issues to watch?
Calfano: Ethics reform will re-emerge, although it is not clear there is enough consensus on a reform package. Tax reform also will be on the agenda, as it has become a litmus test for Republicans, particularly in the House.

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