The country is currently in the middle of primary season, where members of the nation’s two major parties are fighting to determine who will be running in the 2016 general election.
Primaries are arranged in a way that politicians on both sides try to appeal to their party’s base. For the Democrats, this means environmentalists, labor unions and minorities. The Republicans, however, are tasked with winning over the elite business class and evangelical Christians.
This process gets them their place on the ticket but forces them into positions and rhetoric that alienates them from the undecided voters in the middle of the political spectrum. It’s these people in the middle that will decide who comes out on top in the general election. As a result, voters who want their party to win should focus on electing good general election candidates over good primary candidates.
Sen. Marco Rubio is the best choice for presidential nominee that the GOP has.
Most importantly, he is a sitting senator from Florida. Florida is vital to both sides in terms of its electoral vote value. The state has 29 electoral votes and is a battleground state due to the population blend of voters in the north who identify closer to Alabama and Georgia, while south Florida is made up of people with ties to more left-leaning parts of the country. The Republicans getting Florida in the general election will make winning the presidency very difficult for the Democrats.
Republicans need to expand their number of votes to more than just white conservatives. This will need to be achieved by aggressively going after the Latino vote, of which their last nominee, former Gov. Mitt Romney, was only able to get 27 percent.
A Latino Decisions poll form 2014 shows that immigration is by far the most important issue to Latino Americans.
Rubio has a better chance of winning the Latino vote than any other Republican in the race. Immigration has always been closely associated with this son of Cuban immigrants. He was a part of the “Gang of Eight,” which was comprised of four Republicans and four Democrats in an attempt to create bipartisan immigration reform. Legislation would provide a path for citizenship as well as increase border security.
Immigration is a major issue the GOP has to deal with and Rubio is their best bet.
The vice presidential pick the Republicans need to go with is somebody who can bring the party back toward the middle once the nominee has been decided. That person needs to be Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Kasich was part of the Congress that worked with former President Bill Clinton to balance the federal budget in the 1990s. He has taken an open-minded stance in regards to marriage equality; he expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; and his political career is very appealing to people who are undecided going into the 2016 election. He could very well be the final push for people looking to vote for the Republicans but who are not yet sold.
Kasich is also very popular in his state of Ohio. The governor has a 62 percent approval rate according to an October 2015 Quinnipiac University poll. This cannot be ignored, considering Ohio is currently possessing 18 crucial electoral votes.
If Rubio can carry Florida and Kasich Ohio, victory would almost be certain for their campaign.
The only two legitimate candidates left standing on the left are Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton is clearly the candidate the Democrats need to go with. Not because of how great she is, but also because of how unelectable Sanders is.
The Vermont senator is a self-described Democratic socialist. But Americans don’t elect socialists. The word itself brings up thoughts of communism and the former Soviet Union. It brings back the Red Scare.
A 2015 Gallup poll conducted on the types of people Americans would vote for showed that they would be least likely to vote for a socialist.
If the Democrats were to nominate Sanders, he would lose. Not only would he lose, but the Democrats would look extremely foolish in even thinking that he would even stand a chance and therefore potentially weaken the credibility of the party.
Clinton has a track record to run on. She can raise the amount of money needed to become president in today’s America. She has name recognition. Clinton is the only choice the Democrats have to win and it’s time they stopped fighting it.
Like the Republicans, the vice presidential pick is where Clinton is going to try to pick up moderates. The best way for her to get these voters to go blue on the ballot next November is former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.
Webb is a Vietnam War veteran who has been part of the Washington political system. He ended his bid for the Democratic nomination saying, “I fully accept that my views on many issues are not compatible with the power structure and base of the Democratic Party …”
This will bring another dimension to Clinton’s presidential bid. Webb will be able to sell himself as the person who doesn’t blindly follow along with whatever the party tells him and will reach across the aisle to get things done. This will go a long way in winning over the blue-collar voters in the nation’s Bible Belt and across the Midwest.
Both parties have an opportunity to control the White House after President Obama leaves. The question is, will the primary voters be smart enough to figure it out?
Brent Kennedy is a senior in political science.