Originally Posted: January 28, 2016
Below is an excerpt from an SMU news release:
Trump’s biggest gamble yet?
GOP frontrunner backs out of final debate before Iowa, N.H. votes
SMU experts are available for interview on all things debatable in connection with tonight’s prime time matchup GOP contest, the final debate before Republicans cast their votes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
WHEN EVANGELICALS VOTE WITH THEIR WALLETS, TRUMP WINS
Despite a highly publicized flubbing of a Bible verse at Liberty University on Jan. 18. Trump continues to dominate the polls in Iowa, where evangelical voters are notorious for holding sway, leaving many experts – and rivals – flummoxed that such a traditionally strong voting block has been fractured by the real estate mogul’s camp.
“Anyone who looks at the situation can see Trump is not a profoundly religious person,” Wilson says. “It’s surprising how many evangelical voters seem not to care about that very much when there are committed Christians in the field.”
At one point, Cruz appeared most ready to turn the evangelical vote into a caucus victory, but his one-time lead has evaporated under a barrage of attacks from Trump.
“Part of the reason (Trump’s) been able to reach evangelical voters is a lot of them, when push comes to shove, care more about other issues than religious concerns,” Wilson says. “They care more about immigration positions or anti-terror positions. Not all evangelicals swing that way, but enough for Trump to do OK despite his religious unorthodoxies.”
Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science
religion and politics
voting behavior of religious voters
public opinion and politics
CRUZ-TRUMP FEUD DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN THE BROMANCE IS OVER
The once-cordial relationship between Cruz and Trump went out the window when Cruz threatened Trump’s lead in Iowa this month, but Engel says the recent animosity between the two doesn’t mean the rivals can’t be friends again in the future.
“We should remember one of the most vicious and heated Republican primaries occurred in 1980 when the two finalists were Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush,” Engel says. “Bush spent a lot of time debunking Regan’s views and even came up with the term, ‘voodoo economics,’ which became the go-to insult for Reaganomics. Despite that, they were able to reconcile at the convention and Bush even served as Reagan’s vice president.”
“The Trump-Cruz rivalry will get a lot uglier before it gets better, but no matter what we see in terms of them tearing each other down for the primary, they could still work together again down the road,” Engel adds.
Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History
comparison’s to past presidential races