• WisPolitics


Thursday, February 11, 2016

 8:14 PM 

WisPolitics.com panel: Wisconsin April 5 open primary could be pivotal in presidential race

WAUWATOSA -- Wisconsin's April 5 open primary could prove pivotal for the remaining presidential candidates, a panel of political experts told a WisPolitics.com luncheon today.

Democratic pollster Paul Maslin predicted the Republican race would be down to three candidates by then and that the Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton race would be a long fight.

"Is Hillary Clinton still the favorite? Yes. But a much weaker favorite than before," Maslin said in Wauwatosa at the UW-Milwaukee Innovation Accelerator.

Former Madison-area GOP Congressman Scott Klug, now with Foley & Lardner, predicted the three Republicans left April 5 would be Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and a more establishment figure such as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or John Kasich.

Klug said the primary and caucus calendar and lack of winner-take-all events could mean a deadlocked convention.

Maslin, Klug and Journal Sentinel Washington bureau chief Craig Gilbert did not rule out that this weird election season could result in a Sanders vs. Trump general election this fall.

"Theoretically. I don't think you can rule it out. But not probable," Klug said.

"Anything is possible," Gilbert said.

"Entirely possible," is how Maslin put it.

Maslin said Michael Bloomberg would be in the race now if it weren't for the Electoral College and figuring out the state-by-state math to become president. But he said Bloomberg will have to decide soon because of filing deadlines. Gilbert quipped that if Bloomberg gets in, U.S. voters in November could be choosing between three New Yorkers.

The luncheon came in advance of the Sanders-Clinton debate at UW-Milwaukee.

Gilbert said he was interested to see whether Clinton attacked Sanders more directly. Maslin predicted Clinton would be sending messages to African-American and Latino voters.

The three pondered an audience member commenting that Sanders and Trump weren't that far apart in their rhetoric.

"People are mad and frustrated and angry," Klug agreed. "Both are tapping into the same thing. The question is whether either of them can rise above 35 percent."

"The big difference is Bernie Sanders is kind of an ideological candidate," Gilbert said. "What's (Trump's) ideology? One's a personality; one's an ideological candidate. ... There's like eight ideologies in your average Donald Trump speech."

Maslin added he wasn't sure whether "celebrity or ideology is more powerful in America" now.

"I think there is some similarity here. ...(early voters are saying), 'You have failed. I am willing to try this,'" he said.

-- By Staff


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