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A Race Like No Other: Turbulent 2016 Presidential Campaign

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As the presidential polls tighten and September nears an end, SPECTRUM gets a political update from a non-partisan expert on American politics and elections. Kyle Kondik, author of a new book – The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President (published by the Ohio University Press) — speaks about what each candidate needs to do to win in the last month of the campaign.

Kondik noted the unique nature of this race.

Donald Trump needs to win traditionally Republican states but also needs to win some states that were previously won by President Barrack Obama. He needs to not only win regular Republican votes but also must grab Democrats or Independents who feel disenfranchised, according to Kondik. He is spending a great deal of time in traditionally Democratic areas.

Hillary Clinton needs to hold the states won by President Obama but also draw to her campaign educated Republicans and especially college educated Republican women, Kondik adds.

Kondik places states into four groups to watch as predictors of the outcome of the race.

The first group is states that Republicans normally win – like Arizona and Georgia. The question is can Trump hold these states and what will be the roles of African-American and Latino voters in those states. At this point, he says Clinton’s campaign has a shot in these states but it is remote. If she wins either state, Kondik says it is significant.

Kondik also thinks Trump will win Iowa – a state with a large white population without college degrees and he believes Trump also will take the 2nd Congressional District in Maine for the same reason. Iowa had gone for President Obama in the past.

The third state grouping is what is traditionally called the “battleground states” of Ohio, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina. Both candidates target these as “must-win” states.

Finally, to win, Kondik believes that Trump must maintain his Republican base and get Democratic crossover votes in Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Clinton’s selection of Sen. Tim Kaine from Virginia has helped her chances in that important state, says Kondik.

Kondik also notes that up to one-third of the electorate will take part in early voting this year which means the status of the campaign in early October will take on greater significance than in the past. Therefore, public reaction to the first two debates (Sept. 26 and Oct. 9) could be vital to each candidate’s chances.