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