Former White House Political Director and U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Frank Lavin provided an overview of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and the factors shaping the election on February 23 at AmCham Shanghai.
Lavin provided an analysis of the Republican and Democratic contests, as well as general election outcome drivers. He spoke about the difference between “conviction” candidates and “consensus” candidates, with Trump and Sanders falling into the former category and Clinton falling into the latter.
The main questions for 2016 are if the “conviction” candidates can develop depth and discipline to attract voters beyond their base and if the “consensus” candidates can consolidate quickly enough to ensure success.
Lavin went into some detail surrounding Hillary Clinton, saying that although she had a terrible year, she still “closed the door” to her competitors with the exception of Bernie Sanders. Her victory will depend on “whether there are any more surprises,” said Lavin.
According to Lavin, the Republican nomination was not as clear. Marco Rubio appeared to be the leading establishment candidate and should benefit from Jeb Bush’s decision to suspend his campaign. However, Rubio would need to consolidate the party in support of him.
Lavin also briefed on the drivers that would influence the general election race. Voting is influenced by factors such as the state of the economy, international developments, and the perception of the current President. Lavin noted that concerns about the economy would likely hurt the Democratic candidate, while President Obama’s popularity should help the candidate. Lavin showed and discussed a series of political ads from Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Cruz and Rubio, that demonstrated their different personalities and messages. The Democratic ads emphasized that the country was on the right track. The Republican ads were more negative and tried to show the need for change in the country’s direction.
During the Q&A session, Lavin discussed the possibilities of former New York City Mayor’s Bloomberg entering the race and the potential impact of Jeb Bush’s suspension on the race.