Article by Emma Horner on Thomas Cronin | Presidential Leadership and the 2016 Election

Leadership Expert Discusses Complex 2016 Presidential Race

By Emma Horner

The 2016 election has made becoming the next United States President more burdensome, according to a presidential leadership expert during a lecture on Thursday night.

            Thomas Cronin, McHugh Professor of American Institutions and Leadership at Colorado College, guest lectured at the John Goodman Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. He discussed the current campaigns and potential candidate possibilities for the Democrats and the Republicans, including their chances of winning the November election.

            Cronin argued that the winner would gain a large victory, but also a larger burden. He also said that President Obama’s 19 percent approval rating will be difficult to follow coming into the White House.

            There are more than 270 days before the November elections. However, there are only 27 days until the Texas primary.

            “[Cronin] wanted to come before the March primary to have a talk with Texans, to talk about the Iowa caucuses,” said Victoria Farrar-Myers, the Director of the Tower Scholars Program and a Senior Fellow in the Tower Center.

            Cronin treated the lecture hall like his college classroom. Attendees followed along with a packet of handouts that Cronin distributed before the lecture. The contents of these handouts ranged from presidential approval polls, spanning the last 50 years, to lists of factors that unite and divide U.S. citizens. Cronin related this information to how it will impact the 2016 presidential campaigns and election. Cronin spoke in such a way that both students and faculty could relate to his discussion topics.

            “I thought he offered a lot of good insight,” first-year Dedman Scholar Evan Snyder said. “He touched on what, I think, a lot of people in America are feeling in this election and on just the kind of issues that are becoming important.”

            Cronin discussed a wide array of issues that will be concerns for the future President of the United States.

            “Some of them, like immigration and homeland security, have been important for a long time,” Snyder said. “But others, like foreign policy, like we talked about, are not a huge issue. But with the terrorist organizations and stuff that are prominent, it’s becoming a homeland security issue.”

            Some students who attended the event participate in the Tower Scholars program for undergraduate students. Other student attendees desired to supplement their educations. This group included Kenji Yamanaka, a first-year international student from Japan, even though he cannot participate in the November elections.

            “I want to expand knowledge of leadership in America,” Yamanaka said. “I think this is a great opportunity for me to learn.”

            Cronin could not say who he thought would win the November elections, though he did acknowledge the difficulty for a party to win a third term.

            Cronin emphasized that this election is even more disjointed than previous elections. He remains captivated by new polling phenomena occurring within the parties during this election season, even with his years of research and experience.

            “The debates and divides within each party are sometimes greater than that between the parties,” Cronin said.

            The race to the White House has many more months to go. There are still many candidates who could possibly win.

            “You never know in this business.”