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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Elections 2016: A Preview of the Latest Polls

John Zogby, Founder, Zogby Analytics
Washington, DC
February 29, 2016

7:00 P.M. EST


MR STRIKE: Hi. On behalf of the Washington Foreign Press Center, tonight I would like to welcome our speaker, Mr. John Zogby, the founder of the Zogby Poll and Zogby Analytics, who’s going to speak tonight about the latest polling coming out of the 14 states that will vote tomorrow on March 1st, or Super Tuesday.

Without further ado, here is Mr. Zogby, who will make brief remarks, and then we’ll go to Q&A. I would remind you to press *1 to get into the question queue, and I would also remind you, if you drop off, there is going – at the end of the call we will announce a number that you can call in to listen to this conference in its entirety. So if you join us late or if you somehow get disconnected, you’ll still be able to get the full event by calling in again.

So without further ado, here is Mr. Zogby. Please go ahead.

MR ZOGBY: Well, thank you, Andy, and thank you to the Foreign Press Center and to those who are on the call. I’ve been doing this with the Foreign Press Center for many, many years. And I say that because right up front, no, we have never quite seen anything like this before. This is quite the election cycle. And let’s get into it. And let’s start, first of all, with Super Tuesday and what it means.

On the Republican side, the nominee of the party needs 1,237 delegates pledged to him in order to be nominated, and over 600 delegates will be selected tomorrow. And so it is a very big deal. What we see is that there are 13 states in play, one of which is Wyoming, a small state with a very small number of delegates – only 29 – and they will go uncommitted. And so as far as they’re concerned, we don’t really have to deal with them. On the other hand, when we look at the other 12 states, 10 of which are primaries where the voters actually directly get to vote, two of which are caucus, where – as in Iowa and Nevada – groups show up and hold small meetings and cast their votes, what we see is that Donald Trump is really leading in most of those states. And we’ll have to see what the vote tally is, because some states – most of the states, actually – are proportionate in terms of how they allocate their delegates.

But if we take a look at the states on the Republican side one by one, we see Virginia with Mr. Trump holding a double-digit lead. The latest polls have him ahead by 13 points, averaging about 40 percent for Trump, 27 percent for Rubio, 22 percent for Cruz. It looked like Marco Rubio might put a dent into Donald Trump after the last debate, but then Trump – and this is generally speaking, not just in Virginia – seems to have rebounded by way of an endorsement from an establishment figure like Chris Christie. But in any event, we go into the election, the most recent polling we have shows Mr. Trump leading.

Now, Texas is another story. Texas, of course, the second-largest state; the most delegates will be apportioned tomorrow out of Texas, 172. That is Ted Cruz’s state. He is leading in the two most recent polls by double digits – 11 to 13 points – over Mr. Trump, and then Mr. Rubio. It must be understood that this is an absolute must-win for Senator Cruz. If he does not win or if he performs anemically tomorrow, it’s very hard for him to continue his campaign. We should also note that Texas has what we call a 20 percent threshold. So any candidate that gets at least 20 percent of the vote gets that apportioned amount of the delegates. And right now it looks like there could possibly be three candidates then apportioning those delegates. That’s important when we ultimately determine wins and losses tomorrow. One is that we’ll look at the number of states that a candidate has won. Number two, we’ll look at the popular vote and how those – the candidates did overall in terms of how many people voted for them. But thirdly, we will look at the actual number of delegates that they have pledged to them as a result.

Georgia is another state where it looks like Donald Trump is leading. Most recent polls have him with 30 percent, and then 23 percent each for Rubio and Cruz. In Oklahoma, Donald Trump is leading again, about the same as Georgia – 29 to 21, 20. Now, things can change. This could be volatile. Nothing has seemed to hurt Mr. Trump yet substantially in any of the polls. On the one hand, we have powerful endorsements that he received from both an establishment figure like Chris Christie, but then also a strong conservative figure, most particularly on the issue of immigration – that would be Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama. On the other hand we have late-breaking controversies about the Ku Klux Klan, for example, and about the Donald Trump use of foreign guest workers. We don’t have any evidence yet whether those have any impact.

We move into Alabama and Trump is leading. He’s leading by double digits – 17 points over Senator Rubio, 36 to 19.

Governor Kasich, whose name I haven’t mentioned yet, has the endorsement of the governor of that state, but this is a conservative state. And right now, it’s very important to note in context that Mr. Trump is vying particularly with Senator Cruz for the conservative vote, the evangelical Christian vote as well the social conservative vote. And right now, Mr. Trump seems to be doing substantially well.

Minnesota is a state – hasn’t had any recent polling on the Republican side. The most recent polling conducted the middle part of January has actually Senator Rubio leading 23 to only 21 from Cruz and 18 for Trump – in other words, a statistical tie. Rubio has been endorsed by two very prominent Republicans – Tim Pawlenty, the former governor, and Norm Coleman, the former senator from Minnesota. But it remains to be seen how important establishment endorsements are this year, especially when you have Mr. Trump and, to a great degree, Mr. Cruz running against that establishment.

Arkansas is another state with – these roughly all have about similar numbers of delegates up. Right now, it’s a statistical dead heat as of late January with Cruz leading with 27 and then Rubio and Trump tied at 23. Rubio again has gotten the endorsement of the governor of that state, but Trump has spent some time there, drawn some big crowds, and recently hired the former very popular governor, Mike Huckabee – hired his daughter Sarah to be his communications director.

Last few states Trump leads: In Tennessee substantially. Colorado, there is no recent polling coming from Colorado and no indication how that state is going to go. Alaska, Trump leads in Alaska not by much, but since the last poll that was taken in Alaska, Governor – former Governor Palin, who remains a very popular figure up there in Alaska, has endorsed Trump. That may very well be an endorsement that pays off. Trump leads in Vermont, he leads substantially in Massachusetts, and that’s about it.

Of about – just about under 600 delegates that are up for tomorrow’s primaries and caucuses, about half – almost half of the total that are needed, at least from the standpoint of this evening, it looks like Mr. Trump is in good shape to get the lion’s share of those delegates – still nowhere near enough, however, to win the nomination, but on the other hand, enough should he – should these polls hold up for him to have significant momentum going into the next wave, which is March 15th when there are a number of large states with large numbers of delegates.

Quickly, let’s take a look at the Democratic side. A total of about 2,400 delegates are needed to win the nomination on the Democratic side, and 880 of those delegates are up tomorrow. So it is Super Tuesday for the Democrats as well. As we look at the states and we look, obviously, at the results that came in from South Carolina this past Saturday, Hillary Clinton is well positioned to do very well tomorrow. The biggest state, of course, is Texas. She won Texas, actually, in 2008. Most recent polling done there has her not quite 2 to 1, but leading by 36 points over – no, I’m sorry, make that 26 points, 60 to 34 over Senator Sanders.

What’s important for Texas as a bellwether is that Mrs. Clinton leads 81 to 8 among African Americans in the most recent polling, she leads among women 75 to 19, and she leads among Hispanics – a big Hispanic state, 63 to 32. The other most recent polling is holding up showing her anywhere from 21 to 24 points ahead.

She leads by about the same amount in Georgia, which has 116 delegates. She leads approximately 28 to 32 percentage points. Governor (sic) Sanders has been drawing big crowds at colleges, including large black colleges in Georgia, but it looks like that’s a big state for her.

One of the states that appears to be in play on the Democratic side is Massachusetts. Of course, that’s a neighbor of Senator Sanders, and of course he won New Hampshire very large. But that looks to be a good state for him and there are 116 delegates.

In Virginia, where 30 percent of the vote – total vote will be African American, Mrs. Clinton leads by 25, 27 percent – or points, I should say, over Governor (sic) Sanders, and has the support of the governor, a longtime friend, Terry McAuliffe.

Now, where Senator Sanders seems to have openings in addition to Massachusetts are Minnesota, where there’s 93 delegates. The last poll taken was six weeks ago, but these are caucuses. Caucuses are based a lot on enthusiasm of voters. Mr. Sanders has enthusiasm, and a history in Minnesota shows that the more liberal or left-wing challenger generally wins the Minnesota caucuses. The same can be said also about Colorado with 79 delegates. Those are the four areas where – or five areas, I should say – where we look to see how well Sanders can do, possibly win, are Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma, and of course, his home state of Vermont. Other than that, in the remaining states Mrs. Clinton looks to do very well in Alabama with over 50 percent of the voters as African Americans, and her showing on Saturday how well she can do; Arkansas, which, of course, is the home state of the Clintons; and Tennessee, where she presently leads by 26 points.

Why don’t I leave it at there and then get into the analysis as we get into the questions and answers? Look for big nights, I think, from both – for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but look for how well Senator Cruz does in Texas, whether or not Marco Rubio can get enough delegates to get into his home state of Florida, which is a must-win for him, and whether or not then Governor Kasich, who will not do well by any standard tomorrow, but at least can stay alive to get a winner-take-all of delegates in his home state of Ohio and keep the hope alive of startling Mr. Trump.

On the Democratic side, Senator Sanders has the enthusiasm, the youthful crowd, the progressive liberal wing of the party, which generally does well. He has the money that he’s raised, and look for him, I think, to go to the very end, but he’ll be helped in his case if he wins a few of those states.

So thank you for that, and I have plenty of analysis, but I’ll do that by way of answering your questions.

OPERATOR: All right. Ladies and gentlemen on the phone, if you would like to ask a question, please press * then 1 at this time. And if you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the numbers. Again, *1 if you’d like to ask a question.

And our first question comes from Andreas Ross from Frankfurter [Allgemeine Zeitung, a German] newspaper. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you so much for doing this. I’ll cut to the chase and ask: In your analysis, can Donald Trump win not only the nomination but the presidency of the United States? And how would your answer possibly differ from answers you would have given three or six months ago and based on what changed the circumstances?

MR ZOGBY: Well, if there’s any way that’s more than 180 degrees, then it would be 100 – more than 180 degrees different from what it’d have three to six months ago. Count me among the many pundits that have really been fooled by the sustainability of this candidacy. We knew that there was anger out there; we knew that it was a deep anger, beyond frustration, a sense that government and politics just doesn’t work for me anymore, and a feeling that the system was hopelessly broken. I guess what we didn’t know is that that would all be married with the celebrity culture that we live within, and thus someone who has the same appeal as the World Wrestling Foundation, the same appeal as a Kardashian, himself a master of the media, and someone who, incidentally, has a symbiotic relationship with the media, would triumph as much as he has. He’s shown not only sustainability but growth. Every time we have posited that there might be a ceiling to the support Mr. Trump has, he’s broken through that ceiling.

So the short answer to your question is yes, it is very possible for him to win the Republican nomination, and yes, it is within the realm of possibility – I believe not likely – but within the realm of possibility that he could be elected president of the United States.

I would only add that the closer it appears that he gets to the nomination – and this is barring anything unforeseen. Maybe the Ku Klux Klan thing hurts him; maybe the scrutiny over who he has hired for some of his development projects ultimately hurt him. But as he marches on and collects delegates, of course we’re going to see challenges within the Republican Party to his nomination from major donors and from researchers and strategists looking for opportunities to get another candidate on the ballot, perhaps even a brokered convention, in which case literally all hell breaks loose. And then yes, we could very well see with both the nomination – potential nominations – of Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton of a strong, independent candidacy as well.

OPERATOR: Thank you. And our next question comes from Alexey Kachalin from the Russian News Agency [TASS]. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: John, hi.


QUESTION: I have quite a simple question: Can Super Tuesday dramatically change the trend of the Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina?

MR ZOGBY: Well, can it dramatically change the – yes. Anything can happen when voters vote. Here it is – it’s only Monday night, and as a pollster I’ve seen things change dramatically even on election day. But it looks like, at least from the vantage point of this evening, that Mr. Trump on the Republican side is poised at least to do very, very well tomorrow, as is Senator Clinton. Now, what can change? What can change is we have seen Senator Rubio rise from the ashes. He was finished, really, as a credible campaigner after one of the debates, and then he rose back to do very well in South Carolina. Perhaps the more recent events of the last 48 hours that I’ve mentioned with Mr. Trump could stop Mr. Trump in his tracks. And I don’t know. I really don’t know, and it’s hard to even speculate because so many of the traditional rules and conventional wisdoms have broken down.

In Senator Clinton’s case, she seems to – her victory in South Carolina seems in many ways to have placed Senator Sanders in a defensive position, particularly his inability to get a substantial African American vote, although he does particularly well among younger African Americans. But he at least has the power of the progressive wing of the party, which is good for a certain percentage itself and can alter the landscape if he wins four or five of those states tomorrow.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: Mm-hmm. Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. And now to the line of James Reinl from Al Jazeera, [Qatar]. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, John. Thanks for the briefing and spending your evening on the phone with a bunch of journalists. I’m interested in your --

MR ZOGBY: (Inaudible) journalists. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m interested in your expertise – obviously, like as a pollster and everything you’ve said so far, but also you’re knowledgeable on Arab Americans. Maybe you can just give us an overview of how they vote, their cohesiveness, their importance as a bloc, the Yalla campaign that I think you’re involved in. I mean, presumably Arab Americans are not so thrilled by Donald Trump’s plans for Muslim travelers. But as you say, it’s been a surprising year.

MR ZOGBY: The book on Arab Americans – and everyone should know that I was an Arab American organizer before I went into the honorable field of polling 31 years ago and, knowing the community very well, I wrote a book on the demographics of Arab Americans in the early ‘90s – is that traditionally you looked at Democrats and Republicans as a fairly even mix of people. You had some communities, like in the Northeast and Midwest, where they were bedrock Democrats; in the South where they were conservative Republicans; and then depending on which state you were in. In the election of 2000, Arab Americans – and we’re talking about a broader group than just simply Muslim Americans, because Arab Americans are more Christian than they are Muslim – but just talking about Arab Americans, you had a decided shift so that George W. Bush was able to win the Arab American vote in 2000 by addressing some of the more specific, unique claims of Arab Americans, or at least pockets of Arab Americans, about privacy and about airport profiling and so on. Since that time, since the Iraq War in particular, Arab Americans have shifted decidedly over to the Democratic Party – massively.

Concerns – first of all, I should say Arab Americans are like all Americans. They’re small business people and professionals and a mix of people that represent the broad spectrum of Americans. But uniquely there were issues related to the Iraq War, to Abu Ghraib in particular, to the Palestinian issue and so on that tilted Arab Americans away from the Republicans and towards the Democrats, most particularly the 25 or 30 percent of whom are Muslim Americans.

This year I have not polled Arab Americans, but I certainly have impressions. There is a revulsion to Mr. Trump and the campaign that he’s running. One of the things that I learned after 9/11 was that while there had been splits within the Arab American community, the – like myself, the folks that are second, third, even fourth generation have a tendency to say, “Hey, I’m an American, and nobody is going to discriminate against me,” versus the more recent arrivals and the more Muslim among them who had a different point of view and who were deeply concerned about being profiled. After 9/11 there was a unity that developed, much like the kind of unity that develops among Hispanic Americans. Whenever you hear the term – and I know this from focus groups that I’ve done and from polling of Latinos that I’ve done over the last 20, 25 years – that when you talk about anti-illegal immigration to Hispanics, it’s anti-immigration and, one step further in the tautology, anti-Hispanic. There is a unity that congeals. There’s a unity that congeals among Arab Americans when they hear that being attacked simply by virtue of who they are and what they represent.

And so in this election, the Arab American vote should tilt heavily Democrat. However, if it’s indeed Mrs. Clinton, she is a controversial figure herself. I hope that helps.

QUESTION: It was great. Thank you.


OPERATOR: Thank you, and now to the line of Manar Ghoneim from Middle East News [Agency (MENA), Egypt]. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. John. My question is maybe a technical question more. I’d like to know the difference between the primary elections and the caucuses. You said just two states will be primary and two states are caucuses. So I want to know the difference between both. And again, what’s the difference between a delegate and a superdelegate? Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: Okay, good. Those are two very good questions. Thank you. Primaries are when people actually go to the polls and cast their ballot secretly. Whether they stuff a piece of paper in a box or they press an electronic machine, they are voting in the way they would vote in a general election. There are different rules for different states. Some states are closed so that in a Republican primary, only registered Republicans can vote. Other states like South Carolina, for example, one can declare what one is the day of the election, and so even some Democrats can vote in a Republican primary and Independents can vote in a Republican primary, the same holding true for the Democrats. So there are different rules, but it is a secret ballot, and people vote in fairly substantial numbers.

A caucus is actually – or caucuses, I should say, are precinct meetings throughout the state among people who show up to those meetings. So as we saw in Iowa, for example, and Nevada thus far, but we’ll see in Minnesota and in Colorado and in other places, Maine eventually – people are designated to go to a certain spot, whether it’s a gymnasium or a living room or a firehouse or a public school, and the meetings are conducted. And then at those meetings, they are asked to either openly declare, “I’m for Bernie Sanders,” or go to this corner of a room, “I’m for Hillary Clinton.” And then votes are counted publicly, actually, that way.

Some states will have caucuses where the voters will vote secretly, but they still are showing up to a place and voting in a meeting as opposed to voting individually behind a curtain. Now, that was one part of your question. I’m happy to do a follow-up on that eventually.

But delegates and superdelegates – delegates are those that are mainly elected by the voters themselves. And so in – these can get fairly complicated, but in the simplest form, let’s say Donald Trump wins 40 percent of the vote, and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio get 25 percent of the votes cast. Roughly speaking, given the apportionment of the delegates – the numbers of delegates for that state, roughly Donald Trump would get 40 percent of those delegates and the others would get their apportioned amount, although it’s not usually that simple.

In Iowa, for example, what happened is the caucuses – voters elected delegates to go to a county convention who then, when they meet, will then vote to elect delegates to the state convention. And those are the delegates ultimately that will go to the national convention. I’m sorry that it’s – it is complicated, but in a few instances, many of the – I should say many of the instances, it is complicated. Ultimately, those are delegates to the convention.

Superdelegates are those who are elected officials or party officials – that is, officials of the actual Republican or Democratic Party – who by virtue of their status as officials have automatic slots to go to the convention. That – those are what we would generally refer to as party establishment figures. I hope that helps.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you.


OPERATOR: Thank you. And now to the line of Yashwant Raj from Hindustan Times, [India]. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Thanks, John, for doing this.


QUESTION: Two related questions: Tomorrow night, at what situation, at what stage do you think the contest of the – results – when the results start coming in, would you consider Trump unstoppable? And likewise on the Democratic side, at what stage does Hillary become, tomorrow night, unstoppable, if that can happen?

And conversely, so what could happen tomorrow night when the Republican contest is, like, kind of blown open – Rubio surges somewhere or Cruz does something? So if you could look at those scenarios a little bit.

MR ZOGBY: Sure. But it’s a good question. Well, look, if Donald Trump runs the table tomorrow night – meaning he wins every single state – and let’s say in addition to that, even if he doesn’t win Texas but he passes that 20 percent threshold and gets a substantial number of delegates above and beyond, winning all of the other states, it’s very hard to see him being stopped. The only possible way that he’s stopped is if those major donors that are talking – and presumably talking to Mitt Romney or other establishment figures – decide to step in and start running what we used to call “favorite sons,” getting somebody’s name on the ballot. Or another scenario of the establishment saying to John Kasich, “Look, Florida is a very large state. Bow out.” “Senator Cruz, bow out. Let Rubio go head to head with Mr. Trump,” and saying to Rubio and to Cruz in Ohio, “That’s Governor Kasich’s state. He looks to win it. Get out – endorse him. The major task here is to stop Mr. Trump. That’s the only way it can be done.” But the question is can it be done if he runs the table, if he wins all those states and does very well in Texas.

On the other hand, if we do see chinks in the armor – sorry for the metaphor there, but if we see Mr. Trump flagging or failing in some way, that – and we’re past the stage where someone does, like a Rubio or a Cruz does better than expected. These have to be situations where Rubio and Cruz actually win states. That’s where you get a potential weakness for Donald Trump. Then it’s possible to move into Plan B, which is a whole new candidate or targeted candidates – as I pointed out, Kasich and Rubio and their respective states.

In any event, if – another scenario is should Trump do very well and Rubio and Kasich do particularly poorly, I think that you’re going to see efforts being made on the part of the party establishment and its donors to begin promoting a candidacy of someone else that they will utilize to go to the convention with unpledged delegates, non-Trump delegates, and try to do a brokered convention – something that we have never done, we haven’t done actually since 1952.

On the Democratic side, let me say that despite the strong showing of Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, generally the tradition has been that there is a powerful left wing in the party actually going back to 1968, where challengers on the left may not have won the actual nomination but have carried their campaigns right into the convention and have been able to leverage the delegates that they have, do a trade of some sort to get some of their issues on the ballot in exchange for their support in a general election. Names that come to mind are Eugene McCarthy and the anti-war in 1968, Senator Kennedy, Ted Kennedy in 1980. Those are two prominent examples. Jesse Jackson in 1984, more so than 1988.

So – but in the case of the Democrats, it’s hard to see Senator Sanders being treated seriously. He may go on till the very end because he’s a movement candidate, but he has to win some states tomorrow in order to be treated as credibly.

QUESTION: Can I follow up, a quick one?

MR. ZOGBY: It’s okay with me.

QUESTION: So for yourself, what are you going to be looking out for tomorrow night (inaudible)?

MR. ZOGBY: Those very things. Is there any weakness in Donald Trump? Did any of these events in the last 48 hours, did they finally make a dent in some way? And a dent, however, means that he actually loses a couple of states or underperforms the polls dramatically so that there is room for a candidate to challenge him from here on in. So I’m looking at that.

I’m also looking at whether or not – it’s one thing if Senator Sanders on the Democratic side wins Massachusetts and Vermont. Those are his neighboring states. But if he can win Minnesota and Colorado, for example, in addition to those, then I think he is well on his way to friendlier turf – friendlier turf meaning – the left-wing candidate historically has done well in Illinois, has done well in Connecticut, has done well in New York, has done very well in California. Those are big states.

QUESTION: Thanks so much, John.


OPERATOR: Thank you. And now to the line of Mladen Petkov from the Bulgarian National Radio. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello, thank you so much for the call. You talked about endorsements from the establishment for the Republicans, and I wanted to ask you how important are endorsements for the Democrats. And also, do you think that negative ads can be a factor in states with no clear winner, and do you think that they can influence the constituents? Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: No, sure. Yeah, endorsements are always important. They may not bring you votes, but they bring you credibility. And so for challengers I think in particular, endorsements are important. And so if we look on the Republican side, here you have a leading anti-establishment candidate getting the support of a major establishment figure; that is, Chris Christie endorsing Donald Trump. That then begins to open up the floodgates as to whether or not there are more establishment figures who will rally behind Mr. Trump. It is symbolic but symbolic of great importance.

On the Democratic side, if – you had a substantial congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii who was a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee endorsing Senator Sanders today. It gives credibility to a challenger against the person who everyone believed would be the inevitable nominee. Does it bring votes? No, not necessarily. But does it buy credibility? Yes, it does.

There was a second part to your question, and I don’t recall it.

QUESTION: Yeah. Sorry about that. So it was about negative ads, negative campaign on TV, that – which I think is something really unique American that we see every time there is elections, and of course the Daisy spot. Can you – do you think that negative ads are a factor in the states with no clear winner, and do you think that they can influence the voters?

MR ZOGBY: Yes. Yeah, they do. It’s funny, I’ve used as the example that when I do focus groups people tell me, “Oh no, I don’t pay any attention to commercials at all.” And then when they’re in the toothpaste aisle in the store they’re humming the song from Crest Toothpaste. It’s the same thing. I remember doing a focus group back in 2004, multiple focus groups in swing states, and asking people if negative advertising had any impact on them. “Oh, no. No, we don’t pay any attention to them.” And then showing them a picture of Senator Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president, “Oh, he’s the one who said ‘I voted for the war before I voted against the war before I voted for the war again.’” So yes, they have an impact on people, and particularly in those states, swing states that can go either way. Anything that can move a few hundred or a few thousand votes has an impact.

More importantly, I think anybody – any ad that keeps people away from the polls also has an impact. So hey, I may know that my candidate isn’t going to win among this group, but at least I can make sure that fewer of this group even turns out to vote, because if they do they’ll vote for my opponent.

QUESTION: Thank you.


OPERATOR: Thank you. And now to the line of Claudia Trevisan from O Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil]. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, hello.


QUESTION: So can Rubio survive tomorrow, even if he does not win any states?

MR ZOGBY: It’s very hard to see that. He will say that onward to Florida and that Florida’s his state. The problem is that right now he is behind in his own state of Florida and he needs momentum going into Florida. Now Florida’s a very large prize, but it’s very hard to see, after the backing that he has gotten, the money that he has received, the performances, both positive and negative that he has had – at some point he has to win something. Coming in third beyond expectations, coming in second beyond expectations, but eventually you have to win something. And I think, anyway, he has to win something tomorrow. I don’t see where he does, but I think he – it’s going to be very hard for him to move into Florida without having some credible showing somewhere.

QUESTION: But even if he comes in second, very strong second, could be enough to sustain him?

MR ZOGBY: It’s got to be very strong seconds. It can’t be a 36 for Trump and a 24 for Rubio. It’s got to be something where he has done much better than expected and Trump done much worse than expected and in multiple places, to show that not only does Rubio have some increased strength but that Trump has actually been weakened and done less than expected in the polls. But even then, that’s weak. At some point, he – and tomorrow, I believe, is that point – he really has to win somewhere.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. And now to the line of Alexander Panetta from the Canadian Press. Please go ahead. Is your phone on mute?

QUESTION: Oh, hi. Sorry about that.

MR ZOGBY: Oh, it was. Okay.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this.


QUESTION: So I’ve got two questions. First, there’s a lot of talk about the possibility of a Republican schism, a divorce in the Republican Party. If this were to happen and the different wings were to shatter, just I’d like to maybe drill down into the issues that would have caused this. Can you talk about some of the things you hear from people about what issues have caused the most frustration within the party and how that leads to the cleavages we see today?

And the second thing was I was going to ask you about on the whole – this whole idea about rebuilding the Reagan coalition. Trump’s saying, yes, maybe I’ll lose a few votes from the right, but I’ll expand the party base, and people talking about him maybe doing better than the average Republican in New York state, for example. So if can you maybe talk about the Reagan Democrats and also about the Republican divide, I’d appreciate that. Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: Boy, two good questions. First of all, the Republican schism, it’s on the verge of opening up and being very raw. There are three – probably even, if you include libertarians, four distinct wings of the party. And it’s beyond the personalities; these are substantive issues. And beyond the substance, it’s a litmus test. You hear from Republicans of all stripes who is the real conservative; so-and-so’s not a true conservative. And so they’re – these are raw wounds within the party that have been building over the years.

Certainly social issues have had a lot to do with that. Certainly the absence of moderating forces within the party, as the party has been taken over more and more regionally by Southern conservatives, by Christian and social conservatives, and by classical conservatives. There’s been a sort of a death of the phenomenon of a moderate Republican. And when you have that, now you’re going to battle over ideological purity.

With that said, I think if you add personalities to the mix, that gives a persona. I mean, when you look at the debates, for example, there’s no question about the fact that the people on that stage have revulsion for Donald Trump, revulsion for Ted Cruz, revulsion for Marco Rubio. So that just compounds the problem.

The other problem is that it is a party in decline. Interestingly, while it has done well on the local and state levels, where ideology is less and less of a factor, the real problem is as a national party, it doesn’t – it’s finding a difficult time existing. Demographically it’s more and more a party of older voters, conservative voters, white voters, and this is against history. It’s against demographic trends. So in 2008, 74 percent of the total vote in a general election for president was white. By four years later, 71 percent were white. Given the sheer numbers of millennials who by November will be anywhere from 18 to 37 years of age, you’re looking at a larger portion of the electorate and you’re looking at a portion of the electorate that’s less than 60 percent white – total vote, 68, 69 percent white. And then when you look at the non-white portion of the population and the amount of those voters, the percentage of those voters that are voting Republican, not only is it a problem, but it’s compounded by the fact that there’s very little Republican outreach. You can’t really call building a wall and “rapists and murderers” outreach to the Latino community. These are problems with African Americans as well and Asian Americans.

So I think you see this kind of bloodletting within a party not only when you have battles over ideological purity but battles as well over its further existence. It’s less of a problem in the off-year, non-presidential elections, because those are states where states are Republican and can elect statewide people and where districts for Congress have been gerrymandered so there are safe Republican districts. And then add to that the fact that millennials don’t turn out to vote, younger voters and minority voters don’t have a tendency to turn out as much then as they do in presidential elections.

Now, the second part of your question is rebuilding the Reagan coalition. It’s possible to rebuild the Reagan coalition. It’s hard for me, at least from the vantage point of today, to get to 51 percent. Now, that’s not to say that it can’t happen, but when I see the makeup of the party and I see the growth trajectory among Asians and Latinos and African Americans; when I see younger white voters who really have no concept of – or have real problems with Republican stances on immigration, Republican stances on other social issues, I could see perhaps building a unity, but I can see building a unity among Republicans as a minority party.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

OPERATOR: All right, thank you. And now to the line of Anatoly Bochinin from TASS News Agency, [Russia]. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Finally. Thank you for doing this call, Mr. Zogby.


QUESTION: How important is the issue of foreign policy in this campaign, and what voters think about – what do they like more, aggressive speech or more peaceful speech about counterparts of --

MR ZOGBY: What a very good question that is. The broad – obviously, there are issues of Iran and Syria and Russia and China and so on, but the overarching issue is demographic, that if you take a look at voters who are 50 years of age and older, meaning what we call baby boomers and older than baby boomers, they have a more traditional view of American foreign policy: still the remnants of a Cold War view where it’s us versus them; America, the greatest nation, the essential nation; America, the exceptional nation; and America with – in the battle of right versus wrong, America is right. And that means a strong military, a strong presence, a strong – meaning to the rest of the world, American intervention.

If you take a look at voters around 50 years of age or younger, and then particularly the younger that you get, you have a different worldview. This is a generation that began with failures in Iraq and failures in Afghanistan and limits to the power of intervention. These are a group, particularly millennials among them – 18 to, as I said, 36, 37 years of age – who grew up less with a sense that people outside of America were the other, that there are people who are different. These are people, young people, who see – who don’t see that American culture is inherently superior, who don’t see that American intervention is something that’s necessary or that works, or who are less inclined to go to war, because why go to war against people who wear the same jeans as I do and listen to the same music that I do.

And I should point out that it may not seem like a powerful statistic, but it actually is one, that this generation of millennials is the first age cohort in America that have played more soccer than they have baseball or football. That’s very significant. That’s global. This is the first generation that has gone to integrated schools more than any other generation before. So that’s the real foreign policy debate in this country and that we’re at a pivotal point as to which way we turn, and obviously, then who shows up to vote.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. And now to the line of Manuel Tovar from El Nacional, [Venezuela]. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Zogby. Good night. Well, I would like to know – it’s just that if Mr. Trump wins the nomination, do you think it can be a division or fragmentation inside the Republican Party? As you said before, there was – they are in front of a crisis, so can you talk about this please? Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: Yeah. I mean, I think that if Donald Trump continues on the path that he is, which is exclusionist – let’s be very frank – racist, and bigoted – and let’s also be frank, because I taught history for 24 years – this is fascistic these kinds of messages, and it’s very troubling in that sense. And it’s troubling to mainstream Republicans as well. I think that unless he is – becomes as good a dealmaker as he claims to be or stops right now and says, “Oh, look, folks. I’m sorry about all of this, let me really tell you who I am and what I stand for,” then I think you’re going to see – you will see definitely a schism within the Republican Party. And it’s – the more and more Mr. Trump continues on the path that he’s on and finds success in winning these primaries and the path that he’s on, the harder it’s going to be for him to go back to what some believe was the real Donald Trump.

It’s hard to divorce the showman and the narcissist from the core of Donald Trump. And here’s my view, and this is purely speculation. I think that this was a vanity campaign. Hey, I’ve done everything, and I’ve done it so well, why not run for president and have some fun? And I think what he saw was that it got much bigger and more out of hand than he thought. And the more outrageous he is, the more success he has. And I think the outrage – I think he gives voice to bigotry and racism. I think he gives voice to a sense of machismo, but I think he also gives voice to people who just really hate what has become of the United States of America and that he is the force for change. But it’s very troubling to Republicans, I can tell you, to many Republicans.

QUESTION: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. And now to the line of Melissa Sim from The Straits Times, [Singapore]. Please go ahead.



QUESTION: Hi. I just wanted to ask a question about electability. In terms of Trump versus Hillary, Rubio versus Hillary, and Cruz versus Hillary, are voters looking at that at the moment, and if not, when will they start to take that into consideration?

MR ZOGBY: Well, we measure it now. And of course, it’s early. It’s an early benchmark. And what we see is that the results are about even, that Hillary in the low to mid-40s, and each of those Republican candidates anywhere from the high-30s into the mid-40s. Basically, it gives us a benchmark or a starting point. But then we really look in earnest when – after the conventions take place, the nominations, and then you have starting to see the trajectory of more and more people paying attention.

But suffice it to say that the greatest advantage that each party has going into this election is the other party. And so in the Republican case, there will be a lot of fear of running someone like a Donald Trump or even someone else on the fringes, but the sense then that they could very well be running against a damaged person like Mrs. Clinton who has a history, has baggage, is considered to be not necessarily trustworthy, it kind of levels the playing field. Vice versa though too – Mrs. Clinton can benefit by demographics, as I pointed out, and the ability at least for the President and others to help her get some of these demographics out. At least – if not, at least to vote for her than on the other hand to vote against the other party.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: Sure. How about maybe a couple more? Does that work? Is that okay?

OPERATOR: All right. Sounds good. And we – the next question comes from Gulveda Lama from Haberturk, [Turkey]. Please go ahead.


QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for doing this.


QUESTION: I have a question, and I’m sorry I joined a little bit late, so I apologize if this was answered before, but do you see a lot of the rhetoric going on between the – especially the Republican candidates, they’re very harsh on each other and they do mention some of the physical characteristics of each other. For example, they make fun of Trump’s hair, or Rubio makes fun of his hands. How much do you think that actually has an impact on voters’ decision, this kind of rhetoric and speech, that is – that a lot of candidates use?

And my other question would be: Is – do you think Super Tuesday on its own will be enough to determine either the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate? And how many states does, for example, Trump have to win in order to get the nomination? Thank you.

MR ZOGBY: Thank you. You’re welcome. Two very good questions. First of all, in terms of physical characteristics, those are the sorts of things that the highly intense voters listen to. I mean, if I hate Donald Trump, then I’m going to laugh like hell when I hear about his hands and his hair. But for the woman in Ohio who is waiting on tables and earning $8 an hour and dependent on tips and getting the kids to school on time, listening as she’s preparing dinner and having the radio or television on and hearing Senator Rubio say, “Oh, he’s got small hands, and you know what that means,” you know what? That has no impact on her whatsoever, I can tell you. (Laughter.) And she’s not going to pay attention until much later in the campaign when we get very close to the election and she starts to make a decision.

But those are the sorts of things that those who want to promote Marco Rubio or want to be against Donald Trump – those are the ones who are saying, “Ah, good, go get him. Fight him, kill him.” And the same thing with the Donald Trump stuff. It’s the supporters of Donald Trump who just absolutely love his sense of humor. But does it motivate new voters? No, not really.

In terms of the numbers of states, the election will not be – the nominations, I should say, will not be decided tomorrow. But they will create a sense of momentum one way or another. Certainly if Donald Trump wins – well, Wyoming is not going to elect delegates, but if Donald Trump wins 11 out of the 12 states and does well in Texas where Cruz might possibly win, then let’s say that Donald Trump is further along on his way towards the nomination – could potentially be stopped, but it becomes less likely. If Cruz and Rubio win a few states and Trump does less than what the polls are showing he might do, then you could begin to see where maybe there’s a potential to stop him or to slow him down at least and accumulate more and more delegates to take an alternative into the convention this summer. On the Democrat --

QUESTION: How about the --

MR ZOGBY: On the – go ahead.

QUESTION: How about the Democratic candidates?

MR ZOGBY: Yeah, I was just going to get to that. On the Democratic side, as I mentioned earlier, Senator Sanders has vowed to continue to go all the way to the convention. He more than likely will. There is a history in the Democratic Party of the leftwing challenger doing well and going to the convention, even if it means losing, but using leverage to score some points in the party platform or in the party rules committee. But for Senator Sanders to make a credible case to continue tomorrow, there are a few states where he really needs to win. He needs to win at least two or three states, possibly even four.

QUESTION: Thank you.


OPERATOR: Thank you. And our final question tonight comes from Yashwant Raj from The Hindustan Times. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: John, thanks. This is my second question tonight.


QUESTION: Could you speak a little bit about – I’ve been to Donald Trump’s rallies and to Sanders, and their audiences are very much the same. I mean, they’re all white and they’re young and angry. And so what gives?

MR ZOGBY: Oh. Okay. Yeah, what gives? That’s a very good question. There are a lot of angry people that are out there, that even with some significant changes that have taken place – I mean, President Obama can list a significant number of achievements and probably will leave office fairly popular and will be judged on the merits overall as very positive historically as a president.

By the same token, there has been anger since 1992 and a sense that people are losing ground. They’re losing ground in terms of wages, they’re losing ground thus far in terms of a new economy where jobs are paying less than previous jobs that people have had. White Americans, whether they articulate in racist terms or not, are seeing a different America, some of whom aren’t prepared to cope with that kind of an America. I think particularly older Americans who look around and see the growth in the numbers of Latinos in their community and African Americans in their community, Asians in their community, the – of intermarriages and dating, of a strong government after 9/11 and the fear of taking my gun away, of gay marriage – this is not my America.

And so I think at one and the same time, you have, first of all, people who are indeed losing ground, and despite the figures that come out showing reduction in unemployment and so on, the fact is they’re at best kind of holding in place if not actually declining in terms of their income, and an America all around them that seems to be going to hell. And then for some – and to be honest with you, this is not anything that we’re ever able to accurately measure in a poll, but, “Oh my god, there’s an African American president. How did we let this happen?” I’ve actually heard that from people. And again, I can’t get an accurate number because there are people who won’t actually articulate it.

But I think you’re giving voice to a xenophobia and a fear, and we’ve had cycles of these throughout our history. Europe has as well.

QUESTION: Thanks so much, John.

MR ZOGBY: Sure. Thank you very much, everyone, for listening. I enjoy this and I hope I provided some element of clarity. And if I did, please write back to me so that I could be clear myself on what’s happening.

MODERATOR: Thank you all too on behalf of the Foreign Press Center.

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