2016 Archives

GOP convention takes angry turn with booing, ‘Lock Her Up’ chant

‘All conventional wisdom has been broken’

July 20, 2016

DALLAS (SMU)SMU experts are available for interview on all things related to the current state of the presidential race. Additional convention experts are available here.

GOP CONVENTION REVEALS STRONG HATRED OF CAREER POLITICIANS
 

Ben VothBEN VOTH:
bvoth@smu.edu

Whether it was the loud booing of the Republican Party’s Senate majority leader, or the chants of “lock her up” that have frequently followed the name of Hillary Clinton, the GOP convention has revealed a hatred of career politicians that’s stronger than anticipated and on the rise.

“It does seem that the recent FBI announcement (recommending no charges against Clinton in connection with her email scandal) has ignited some public anger about this idea of politicians being above the law,” Voth says. “That is probably what is driving the polls that show the race narrowing at this time. The most resonant comments from the floor of the RNC have to do with seeing Hillary Clinton put in prison, and that is scary.”

The RNC does appear to have made the ‘not Hillary’ argument it’s centerpiece through the first two days, with a secondary argument that Donald Trump is a good family man suitable for election by a disenchanted conservative base, Voth says.

It’s hard to say, though, whether the unconventional approach is working.

“All conventional wisdom has been broken,” Voth says. “The once-anticipated nominee, Jeb Bush, spent nearly $50 million per delegate that supported him at the RNC this week. All conventional attacks have failed. The apparent anger of the American electorate against conventional American politics has not yet found a bottom in the national dialogue. As the RNC flounders at its political messaging, it continues to inadvertently signal its emerging apolitical character.”

Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. He can discuss:

  • debate prep
  • debate strategy
  • comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season
   
FIRST TWO DAYS EARN “C” GRADE, BUT TACTICS ARE EFFECTIVE 
 

Matthew WilsonMATTHEW WILSON:
jmwilson@smu.edu

The Republican National Convention might be about nominating Donald Trump, but the event’s speakers have spent most of their time talking about Hillary Clinton, and that makes sense, says Wilson.

“There will be a lot of anti-Trump rhetoric at the Democratic National Convention, too, and that’s because both candidates are quite unpopular,” Wilson says. “Trump’s best bet is to make this election an up-or-down vote on Clinton, because most Americans don’t like her, and Clinton wants an up-or-down vote on Trump, because most Americans don’t like him. So there’s a strategic reason for this tendency to focus this election on each candidate’s unpopular opponent.”

That said, Wilson does expect tonight’s speakers to broaden the convention’s message.

“Folks like Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence have worked in crafting policy in Congress, so you might see more on Obamacare and tax policy tonight,” Wilson says.

The big question, though, is whether Gingrich, Pence and Ted Cruz can raise the perception of a convention that’s widely been deemed as far shy of perfect.

“I would say the letter grade so far is a C,” Wilson says. “Both Trump children did well and Donald Jr.’s speech last night was definitely a high point, but Melania’s plagiarism flap was an obvious low point. There’s been a fair amount of disorganization and it hasn’t been as tightly disciplined as major conventions typically have been in the past, but we haven’t seen massive protests or an explosion of discord on the floor or any of the disastrous meltdown scenarios people feared.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. He can discuss:

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • voting behavior of religious voters
  • public opinion and politics

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