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Media advisory: Political experts can discuss Iowa caucuses final push

Monday, February 01, 2016

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas experts are available to comment on the final push and analyze results from Monday's Iowa caucuses in the presidential primary race.

Polling data released to the media in recent days shows tight races in both the Republican race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and in the Democratic nomination showdown between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. In the GOP race, establishment candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie are also jockeying for position.

Patrick Miller, assistant professor of political science, monitors national polling made available and tweets analysis at Twitter.com/pmiller1693. His broad research interests include national politics and attitudes of partisanship.

"There are two dynamics to watch for on both sides. First, Sanders and Trump tend to draw support for the types of voters who are less likely to actually show up at the polls," Miller said. "It's easy enough for these sorts of voters to say that they support a candidate in a quick poll, but will they be committed enough in reality to caucus tonight? We can only wait and see."

Secondly, he said with a substantial number of both undecided voters and voters with weak preferences on each side, could influence final results as well.

"These types of voters often make last-minute decisions about whether to even vote at all, or what candidate to finally settle on," Miller said. "Polls do not capture well these sorts of last-minute voter dynamics, so we could see some interesting divergence between polling and actual results as voters make their final decisions."

Burdett Loomis, professor of political science, researches Congress, U.S. politics and lobbying. Loomis said it would be important not to overinterpret the Iowa results as the New Hampshire primary could also change both races in a heartbeat.

"I think Sanders needs to win to have any shot. He would then win solidly in New Hampshire and maybe shake things up. A Clinton win with a decent finish in New Hampshire pretty much cements her nomination," Loomis said. "On the GOP side, establishment candidates will hang in through New Hampshire.  Cruz may not absolutely need to win, but if he doesn’t come close to Trump, he probably loses. Rubio needs to be a solid third to help himself.  And Trump? A win is important; a big win will send the GOP into complete chaos. Right now, we have incomplete chaos."

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, researches American politics and public policy and can speak about national political trends.

"I think who comes in third and fourth among the Republicans will get a real boost as a Trump alternative going into New Hampshire and South Carolina," Haider-Markel said. "On the Democratic side, if Sanders gets a win, it will help him stay in the race longer, but Clinton can claim some achievement as long as it’s a close margin."

Christina Bejarano, associate professor of political science, researches women and Latinos in U.S. electoral politics, both their voting trends and political candidates. She has written two books: "The Latino Advantage: Gender, Race and Political Success" and "The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics."

To arrange an interview with Miller, Loomis, Haider-Markel or Bejarano, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.

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