National political analyst Charlie Cook has spent nearly four decades writing about and predicting election outcomes. All that experience and more, he told an Indiana Chamber Legislative Dinner audience of more than 700 people Tuesday night, was not enough to foresee what has taken place thus far in the 2016 presidential race.
While some candidates have ended their campaigns as a result of poor finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, plenty of questions remain. Despite Bernie Sanders’ close finish in Iowa and convincing win this week, Cook says the Vermont senator will struggle to compete in more diverse states. Hillary Clinton’s biggest obstacle at this time is her potential indictment over the use of her private email server while in the role of Secretary of State. If an indictment comes, Cook predicts that Vice President Joe Biden will quickly get a phone call asking him to reconsider his decision not to run.
On the Republican side, Cook offers that Ted Cruz has emerged as the leader of the conservatives, Donald Trump is “operating in his own lane” and the more established, traditional candidates (Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and until a few days ago Chris Christie) need to have three of them drop out and allow supporters to unite behind the one remaining. The ceiling for Trump’s support is declining, according to Cook. The veteran prognosticator calls Kasich probably the most qualified to serve as President, but at this point expects Cruz and Clinton to earn their party nominations. He notes, however, that both are very unpopular with independent and moderate voters.
In other words, stay tuned.
Governor Mike Pence provided opening remarks at the annual event, presented by Ice Miller, at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.