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Pollster John Zogby discusses NASCAR Dads, the evolving Latino voting population and the potential of a Trump-Clinton presidential race

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“I ran for mayor in 1981, and thankfully I didn’t win,” pollster John Zogby told the Campaign Battlegrounds class. Mr. Zogby began as a self-described “left-wing political activists” before migrating to professional polling.

In the mid-1980’s Mr. Zogby began polling local races, something unseen in the field at the time but is now considered common practice. By 1994, Mr. Zogby was conducting polls for Richard Murdoch, generating information for Fox News and the New York Post . Two years later, Mr. Zogby was polling for Reuters and NBC News.

Zogby was the first pollster to coin the term “NASCAR Dads.” He explained, “Weekly Wal-Mart shoppers are one of the key groups, when they are with Obama his approval rating is good. When they are against him, his approval rating is not.”

For this election season, Mr. Zogby suggests the most decisive demographic will be what he terms, “First Globals.” Coined “millennials” by others, Mr. Zogby suggests, “There is a clear demarcation on foreign policy attitude at the age of 50. Those older than 50 believe in ‘American Exceptionalism’ – the idea America plays an exceptional role in foreign policy. Those below 50 are more cautious about foreign policy.”

Mr. Zogby also discussed how the Latino participation has evolved. “In 1992, Latino voters were 4 percent of 92 million voters . Now they are 10.1 percent of 132 million voters,” Mr. Zogby explained. During our discussion, Mr. Zogby also commented on the decline in support for Republican candidates among Latinos.

“George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Latino vote, John McCain won 31 percent, Mitt Romney won 29percent. In 2010. Latino voters turned out at 70 percent and voted 80 percent Democrat,” Mr. Zogby shared.

On the phenomenon of Donald Trump, Mr. Zogby said, “I thought he would be a summer fling. All the rules have been broken and anytime he breaks the rules he does better.”

On Hillary Clinton, Mr. Zogby said he has met her several times and has personally told her, “I don’t really know who you are.” He further suggested, “It’s easy to see how [a Trump-Clinton race] becomes competitive. Not trusting a candidate,” he told the class. “is powerful.”

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Elections analyst Henry Olsen shares his thoughts on the GOP presidential candidate race


“There are four factions of the Republican Party,” Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) shared with our class, “you have your moderates or establishment candidates, the evangelical voters, very conservative seculars and then your somewhat conservatives.” According to Mr. Olsen, it is the movement and allegiances of these four factions that dictate the outcome of Republican Primaries. The 2016 Primary fits this model, with one exception.

A self-described “political junkie,” Mr. Olsen analyzes elections for the EPPC and blogs for the center as well as the National Review.

“Trump doesn’t quite fit. He is attracting people on a class base, not ideological,” Mr. Olsen said. “Senator Rubio appeals to ‘somewhat conservatives’ – whereas Kasich appeals to ‘moderates.’” Not surprisingly, Gov. Kasich did well in New Hampshire, a state Mr. Olsen described to the Campaign Battlegrounds class as 45 to 49 percent moderate and the most moderate of early voting states.

Throughout our conversation, Mr. Olsen shared his insights on many recent events, including the Iowa Caucuses. Mr. Olsen noted that the polls were largely accurate. However, the voters’ capacity to change their minds was underestimated, resulting in a surprise win for Senator Ted Cruz.

On Governor Bush’s campaign, Mr. Olsen referred to a blog post he had written comparing Jeb to Rip Van Winkle, suggesting Governor Bush had taken a twenty-year nap, entering the 2016 campaign prepared to run in 1996. Clearly, the Jeb Van Winkle problem was real, contributing to the governor’s suspension of his campaign following the South Carolina caucus.

In our discussion, Mr. Olsen also cautioned against stereotyping Southern Republican primary voters as exclusively Evangelicals.

“John McCain beat Mike Huckabee in Texas in 2008,” Mr. Olsen reminded the class. Suggesting those Southern states are not necessarily committed to the most religious candidate.

As for the current state of the GOP race, Mr. Olsen noted “three candidates are still viable.” Updates to Mr. Olsen’s interpretation of the current primary process can be found on his blog for the National Review.