Political experts weigh in on presidential race - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Political experts weigh in on presidential race

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CARBONDALE -- The 2016 presidential election is less than a year away and the first caucus votes will be cast this February.

With the unknown of the race fast approaching, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute held a luncheon on Monday at the Saluki Stadium to give their insights on how the race will pan out.

Director David Yepsen said Hillary Clinton, D-New York, will win the Democrat nomination.

"Hillary Clinton, this is now hers to lose. There were some questions early on but the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire and nationally tend to be firming up for her," he said.

Visiting professor John Jackson agrees about Clinton but not about the Republican candidates.

Jackson said he predicts Donald Trump, R-New York, and Ben Carson, R-Michigan, will soon lose their steam.

And the candidate he thinks everyone should keep an eye on Jeb Bush, R-Florida.

"I would urge you not to count Jeb Bush out yet. He's got $100 million in his pac. That money's got to go somewhere and I don't think it's over for Jeb Bush yet," Jackson said.

Bush is not the only one Jackson thinks could get the nomination, but he is not on Yepsen's list of possibilities.

"Really now on the Republican side [we] have about four candidates: Trump, Carson, Rubio and Cruz," Yepsen said.

Marco Rubio is from Florida. Ted Cruz is from Texas.

Polling expert Charles Leonard said national polls are not reliable right now and they are not meant to predict the future anyway.

"A national poll is a popularity contest and it's a snapshot in time," he said.

Those hosting Republican debates this year have looked to national polls to determine who gets a spot on the stage and where. Leonard said that is just wrong.

"This gives the false appearance of being a systematic way to count whose ahead and whose not...To pretend that there's a systematic way of counting whose ahead and whose not among eight people, to me is just not plausible. It's not what polls are designed to do, especially this far out and with this many candidates."

Leonard also said the polls have a huge margin of error when really reviewed.

"You add Ben Carson and Donald Trump together and they make up half the sample. So when you take Trump and Carson out of a poll of 500 people, you have a poll of 250 people, and the margin for error goes through the ceiling," he said.

Regardless of the disagreement, Yepsen said this presidential debate is fascinating.

"This is an interesting contest in both parties. Both parties are really searching for who they are in the post Obama era. We don't have this wide open election that often and so it's interesting to watch," Yepsen said.

The Iowa caucus is scheduled for Feb. 1.

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