Media Advisory: March 15 N.C. Primary: Wake Forest professors available for comment

As the March 15 North Carolina primary approaches, Wake Forest University professors are available to comment on the issues and the candidates.

Clinton needs youth, Sanders needs minorities – “Clinton needs to mobilize the enthusiasm of young voters.  Sanders needs to mobilize the enthusiasm of minority voters,” says David Coates, an expert on liberal politics and author of numerous books, articles and blog posts on politics, history and economics. The North Carolina primary will be a “key test of Bernie Sanders’ ability to pick up support among African-American Democratic Party voters – a test he has yet to pass,” says Coates. “For Hillary Clinton, the issue is less support among minority groups as a whole as it is about the age of those supporting her.”

Candidates not spending much political energy in N.C. – “When you’re a proportional state on a busy day of winner-take-all primaries, you just may be bypassed,” says Allan Louden, communication professor and expert on political advertising. “North Carolina moved up the primary calendar expecting a conforming splash of media ads and national political prominence. Other than a steady stream of drive-by candidate rallies – more associated with airports locations than politics, fame and attention has failed to arrive.”  Will North Carolinians see compelling new political ads leading up to March 15?  “In a Trump-like way, Florida and Ohio have sucked the oxygen out of the room. TV advertising surely will follow this week, but so far NC voters are living on the fumes of SC primary ads aired via regional cable.”

Earlier primary plus election changes – Professor of politics and international affairs John Dinan closely follows U.S. and North Carolina political races and can talk about the presidential primary contests as well as NC legislative contests and statewide races on the March 15 ballot. In addition, he can address election changes related to redistricting. Dinan teaches courses on parties and elections, state politics and Congress.

How important is North Carolina’s Republican presidential primary? Dinan says: “North Carolina will award the second-most delegates of the March 15 states — even more than Ohio and Illinois, both of which are more populous states.  In that sense, the North Carolina primary will attract a lot of attention from Republican candidates.  But several other states voting on March 15 will attract more attention than North Carolina, because North Carolina has chosen to award its 72 delegates on a proportional basis, whereas several other states award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis, as in Florida, with 99 delegates, and Ohio, with 66 delegates.”

What impact will the elimination of the 40-percent threshold for non-presidential primaries have? Dinan says: “One important consequence of the federal court decision striking down North Carolina’s congressional districts and the need to move congressional primaries to June 7 is that the state legislature eliminated the usual rule where run-off elections are held between the top two vote-getters when no candidate wins at least 40 percent of the vote in non-presidential primaries. This rule change will likely help incumbents by making it tougher for challengers to force them into run-off elections.  In some cases, this may also make it easier for the parties to coalesce around a candidate and get a head start on the general election, without having to await the outcome of run-off elections.”

Looking for comment on other election-related topics, including the youth vote and Latino voters? Visit Wake Forest’s Election 2016 faculty experts guide.

Categories: Media Advisory