Tonight’s town hall may be in New Hampshire, but its audience is in Nevada, South Carolina

SMU experts are available for interview in connection with tonight’s Democratic town hall and Thursday’s tentatively scheduled Democratic Debate ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary

DALLAS (SMU)SMU experts are available for interview in connection with tonight’s Democratic town hall and Thursday’s tentatively scheduled Democratic Debate ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary.

Sanders and Clinton would do well to look past New Hampshire 



Tonight’s town hall might be located in Derry, New Hampshire, but Wilson says both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would be wise to cater their messages to voters in future primary states instead of those in the Granite State.

“The outcome in New Hampshire seems pretty set at this point,” Wilson says. “Sanders has a big lead, but it will be discounted somewhat because he’s from a neighboring state. So all eyes are on South Carolina and Nevada, where we’re get a sense if Sanders is a flash in the pan or a genuine threat for the nomination.”

Despite Sanders’ strong finish in Iowa and big lead in New Hampshire, Wilson says the Vermont senator will be the candidate facing the most pressure Thursday when he attempts to get his message across to minorities, who heavily favor Clinton.

“Sanders can do well in states where the Democratic electorate is heavily white and liberal, but that’s not the case in South Carolina or Nevada, where the next two Democratic contests will be held,” Wilson says. “The challenge for Sanders isn’t winning New Hampshire, it’s making inroads with minority voters so he can find a way to not hit a brick wall when the contest moves south and west.”

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

  • religion and politics
  • political psychology
  • voting behavior of religious voters
  • public opinion and politics
Sanders will target minority voters, but it won’t matter


The New Hampshire primary will ultimately prove unimportant to the Democratic race, says Engel. Unfortunately for Sanders, nothing the Vermont Senator says during tonight’s town hall will save him from Super Tuesday, either.

“The demographics of the South really favor Clinton because she just does so much better with minorities than he does,” Engel says. “Painting with a broad brush, from the perspective of southern minority communities, either candidate is equally good for them, but minorities have a long-term trusting relationship with the Clintons.”

Because of that long-term trust, there might be nothing Sanders can do to pull minority voters away from Clinton, but he’ll have to try, or the Democratic race could be over come Super Tuesday.

Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History who can discuss:

  • comparison’s to past presidential races
  • foreign policy
  • presidential rhetoric
New Hampshire still in play, despite Sanders’ lead in polls 


Kirk, who spent Monday night running focus groups of New Hampshire voters for CNN, says the Granite State is still very much up for grabs, despite polls that show Sanders running away with the lead.

“There are a lot of people in New Hampshire who haven’t made up their minds or are soft supporters of one candidate or another,” Kirk says. “What we were hearing is there were a lot of people who like what Sanders has to say, but don’t think he should be president. They support him (only) because they want Hillary to know they want things to change.”

Kirk is SMU professor of communication studies and director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility who can discuss:

  • sound bite substance
  • undecided voters
  • presidential debates
  • the use of second screens and social media in politics
  • political communications
It might be time for Clinton to address her email server 


The most notable time Clinton’s email server was mentioned on a debate state, it was Sanders, not Clinton, who famously dismissed the issue by declaring, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”

Four months later, Clinton might be wise to raise the issue on her own and tackle it head-on, says Voth.

“The email issue isn’t a matter of Clinton vs. Sanders, but she’s trying to attract independent voters and energize her base,” Voth says. “She is struggling to do that with the issue hanging over her head.

“It was very awkward in the Iowa town hall when the young person stood up and said he thinks she’s dishonest,” Voth adds. “She wants to take that off the table, whether Bernie brings it up or not.”

Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of corporate communications and public affairs who can discuss:

  • debate prep
  • debate strategy
  • comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season
Spin, Spin, Spin – Sanders and Clinton seek boost from Iowa results 


Hillary Clinton may have won the Iowa Caucus, but Bernie Sanders can still seize the moment with the right message at tonight’s town hall, says Martin.

“Bernie will use the ‘virtual tie’ in Iowa – his words – as evidence that he is electable and his message is deeply resonant,” Martin says.

On the flip side, Martin expects Clinton to continue her “Head over heart” message.

“Hillary will insist that while she understands and even agrees with the passion of Sanders’ supporters, she is the electable candidate and there has to be an element of pragmatism to the movement,” Martin says. “Clinton will also focus much more strongly than Sanders on what’s happening in the Republican race, because she wants voters to remember what’s at risk.

“Sanders is about saying, ‘The system is rigged, we must change it,’” Martin adds. “Clinton is saying, ‘We’ve come a long way and we can’t go back.’”

Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts who can discuss:

  • economic messages in political campaigns

The healthcare math doesn’t support Sanders, or anyone else



One of the few economic debates occurring this primary season is an argument between Clinton and Sanders about the future of healthcare.

Sanders is vocal about wanting to implement Medicare for all with a tax on the wealthy, while Clinton wants to preserve the Affordable Care Act, popularly referred to as “Obamacare.”

“It’s one thing to talk about raising taxes on the rich – even though the top 1% already pays 50% of all tax revenue.  It’s another thing to say you’d use that to fund universal healthcare, because the numbers just don’t add up,” Weinstein says.

The thing is, the numbers aren’t there to maintain the status quo much longer either, says Weinstein, and the ticking time bomb that is Medicare funding is a challenge the next president will likely face.

“Last year, the federal government dispensed more on Medicare than Social Security,” Weinstein says. “Social Security isn’t in great shape, but it won’t go bankrupt for 15 years. Medicare will go bankrupt in four to five years if there aren’t dramatic reductions in reimbursements or increases in taxes before then.”

Weinstein is an economist and associate director of SMU’s Maguire Energy Institute. He can be reached at his office during the workday. He can discuss:

  • energy and public policy.
  • taxation policy.
  • economic development policy.



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