tv Matter of Fact NBC January 31, 2016 11:35pm-12:00am EST
and 30 delegates. and the rise of outsider candidates, like donald trump and senator ted cruz, is generating hand-wringing within the ranks of the republican party. michael steele is the former chairman of the rnc and he joins me now here in the studio. michael, thanks for coming. michael: great to be here. fernando: well, you've just come back from iowa. let me ask you right off -- do you think donald trump will win iowa? michael: i think he's well-poised to do it. depending on the polls you're looking at, there's still a very, very tight span between him and cruz right now. but the thing that's fascinating to watch is how cruz sort of eclipsed him, held that lead almost 4, 5, 6 points, and then trump just turned it, just turned it on the dime and moved the energy back in his direction. so i think, going into this, i think trump well-poised to win it and if he does, it makes the , rest of this effort by the other candidates that much more
fernando: this shift in momentum, do you think it's connected to trump using the fact that ted cruz was born in canada as some wedge issue? michael: it contributed to it in a small way. what it did was, more importantly, is it got people to stop their inclination to move toward cruz. it said to them, well maybe i'll think about that. let me think. really? it can turn the table. and i think that's what that did. it was the combination. it wasn't the whole canadian birther thing, but it was, you know, no one likes him. the combination of these two. not only is he not from america, but no one likes him. and people are like, wow. fernando: is that really? it seems very odd to me that the senate refuses to help him out and do a proclamation. [laughter] michael: it's because no one like him fernando: and what does that say, though? beyond the human aspect of not liking him, what does it say
ted cruz presidency? if you aren't camping along your party in the senate today, what would change if you were? michael: well, i have two brains on that one. the first is it makes it very difficult to be president if that's the case. then you're witnessing pretty much what you've seen over the last seven years. barack obama had no relationship with members of the hill, quite honestly in both parties. it wasn't just the angina that republicans had with him or he with them, but it was also even among democrats who had no preexisting relationship and then over the course of seven years, not even developed a relationship. so ted cruz in that situation would pretty much find himself in a similar space, like barack obama working with the republican senate and house that generally doesn't want to work with him or did not like working with him. the other side of my head though, which is more i think more to the correct side of this
virtue of being president, the nature of the office and, ultimately, cruz is a smart guy. he understands that he's going to have to go out and probably work twice as hard to make his presidency work because of the animus that may exist there. i think he would take the early steps in his administration to make sure that he healed some of those wounds. but you're right. i think it sets itself up very nicely for the argument that trump wants to make about him that creates that pause in the momentum that ted cruz was experiencing. fernando: if you look forward and you see a trump versus a hillary clinton or even a bernie sanders, for that matter, do you think he has what it takes, in terms of broadening his appeal beyond this plurality of gop voters? michael: i do. it really drives a lot of my friends on the left nuts when i say this, but they're turning a
inside their own ranks. that there is a reason why two bernie sanders is bernie sanders. why this, in the last evening of the last few days he's had 20,000 people show up at events and hillary's had 400. there's a reason why young voters are not enthralled by him -- by her, and more by him. so they need to take a closer look at what's going on inside their own party, because it's the exact same thing that's going on inside the republican party. that frustration doesn't have a partisan line to it. that anger doesn't have a partisan line to it. in a head to head race, what i'm finding is there is as much appeal among democrats and independents for donald trump as there is among republicans. people don't like to admit that publicly. people don't like to talk about it publicly, but it's there. but you go and you talk to people, they'll tell you. you know, i have a lot of my friends who are scratching their heads with their parents who
were the liberal, mom and dad, how can you be? but i like what he's saying. you know, the country needs someone to shake it up. what do you do with that? it's a whole new way of looking at politics. so i think in a head to head donald trump would make it very interesting against either sanders or clinton. i tell people that is not a fair at accompli for the democrats. that's not an easy get for them. fernando: well, thank you so much. i really appreciate your time. while many polls show republican voters are ready for an outsider candidate, it remains to be seen whether or not top party leaders will agree. >> coming up, who's destined to win and who can't afford to lose in iowa? >> all we got to do is hang tight. caucus really works? meaningless event with
status gives caucus goers immense power to whittle the candidate field. yet its voters reflect little of the nation's diversity. over 90% of the residents are white. so is it a fair test of america's political will? craig robinson, the editor of the "iowa republican," joins us now from des moines. greg, welcome to the program. as you know, many people question the role of iowa in the election process. why should it go first? it's not the most diverse state in the country. perhaps not representative of the whole of america. what's the argument? what do you see that iowa's role is? craig: i think the role of iowa is really to winnow down a field and to really make, promote certain candidates forward from iowa. i don't think anyone in iowa believes that we pick who's going to be the nominee for each party. i think we understand that we start the process and we help
make informed choices. fernando: you're very much and have been involved in the ground game. just give us your impression. who's doing the best at getting people motivated and ready to caucus? craig: i saw the top three candidates all yesterday on the campaign trail in eastern iowa. and it was interesting. the ted cruz crowds are very passionate. the donald trump crowds are very kind of big and full of protesters -- it's just a crazy event. and the marco rubio, a bit more subdued. so i think the energy is definitely there with cruz and trump. and then you have a lot of other candidates, even candidates that are polling low single digits, are still having some really good crowds where if we weren't comparing them to the donald trumps of the world, we would say that this is far more wide open than the polls seem to indicate. so, there's a lot of interest in the state. i expect a really large turnout.
there with cruz and trump. fernando: craig, thank you for joining us. i'm now speaking to steve shepard. he is the campaigns and elections editor at "politico." steve, welcome to the program. steve: great to be here. fernando: so steve, tell me as you look at the panorama of this election, particularly millennial voters, what do you think is turning them on or turning them off? steve: well, i think it's very clear that millennial voters, just like a large portion of the electorate, are really disillusioned with washington. they're disillusioned with the way government is working. they think, depending on which side of the aisle they come from, they just think the institutions in washington have failed. so that's why they're looking at candidates like bernie sanders on the democratic side, who are promising radical change to the way things are done in washington, in addition to radical change from an ideological perspective. and also candidates like donald trump on the republican side who are promising to really shake things up here. millennial voters do not believe that the government has their
fernando: and is there something, aside from the feeling and the sense in the country that the government's not working as well as it should be, are there particular issues? i know college cost is a major driver, but beyond that, what do you see? steve: bernie sanders and martin o'malley and hillary clinton have all used that as a rallying cry. on the republican side, republicans rely less on younger voters. younger voters make up a smaller portion of the republican primary and caucus electorates. we're talking about iowa and new hampshire, you're seeing some candidates say, hey, it's time for new leadership. marco rubio, for example, is one of the candidates in the republican -- fernando: well, i want to ask you about that, because he's made that argument in a very clear way. yet, he has, at least seemingly, very little traction in the polling. what do you think is the disconnect there? steve: well, look, i think that because younger voters make up a very small portion of the republican primary electorate, that's not an argument right now that's well-served for him, when it comes to taking down ted cruz and donald trump.
election, and it comes to facing the democratic nominee, cutting into the advantage that barack obama has had in the past two elections among younger voters is going to be essential for the republicans if they're going to compete in the general election. fernando: what would be that argument that would convince millennial voters that seem to prefer, at least at this point, democrats, as you said? in 2012, they preferred president obama. what's going to bring them over to the republican side? steve first of all, i think it : depends on the messenger. someone like marco rubio or ted cruz, you're talking about first term senators who have been not around washington for that long. who are in their 40's, facing either hillary clinton, who has been in washington for a very long time and is nearing 70, or 74-year-old bernie sanders who's been in congress since the late 1980's. they're able to make that generational change argument that isn't even really about the issues. it's just about the messenger. fernando: well, steve shepard, thank you so much for joining me. steve: my pleasure.
mr. trump. fernando: it's a bipartisan reality. latinos are the nation's largest minority group, almost 20% of the population. the republican and democratic nominees will have to win a big share of this growing electorate in order to win the white house. but will eligible latinos turn out at the polls? matt barreto, with the leading polling firm latino decisions, joins me on skype. welcome to the program. matt: thank you for having me . fernando: so matt, as you're looking at this election, do you think latinos will turn out in the numbers that people have expected or will it be 2014 kind of situation where there'll be underperformance by latino voters? matt: well, we've always seen this up and down in presidential elections and midterm elections. and it is true that 2014 was
but some of the commentaries made on the republican side during the primaries about anchor babies, about mexicans as rapists, as well as building the wall, as well as some the other comments about other immigrants, such as muslim immigrants. these have really inflamed a lot of frustration in the latino community. and you're seeing not only everyday people coming out and protesting but the advocates and involved this year. you are seeing a lot of that frustration on the one side. on the other side, what some of the other candidates are talking about, there has been a lot of attention on latino millennials as a new force. if that continues, that frustration and enthusiasm continues, that is a recipe for very high engagement. fernando: let me ask you a question. several polls, pew among others, show that latinos, like other americans, care about the economy and security and so forth, yet immigration continues to be a touchstone for this
can you explain how that works? why is immigration so critical, especially since most latinos were born in the u.s.? matt: we find in our polling that two thirds of latino voters personally know someone who is an undocumented immigrant. and up to one third know someone who has actually been detained or deported. and so the immigration issue, it's a family issue. it's an issue that almost everyone, even if they were born in the u.s., has immigrant parents or immigrant grandparents or immigrant friends, and so it's an issue that's very close and personal. and when candidates start taking positions to say that they want to deport parents of u.s. citizens, for example, that's an issue that strikes at the heart of the latino community. so because of that, it elevates in importance. perhaps it even becomes more salient or more top of the mind than some of these other issues like the economy. and so, because of that, it's an issue that can mobilize latinos even when surveys show sometimes that people are saying that yes, i care about jobs, i care about wages and the economy, immigration is the issue that
fernando: and last question, what is the threshold number of latinos or percentage of latino voters that a republican or a democrat has to earn in order to be elected president? matt: well, we used to think that that number was 40%, because that was the number that george w. bush was able to get. but that was back in 2000, 2004. much has changed. the latino vote has gotten much larger since then and as a result, republicans need to do better. and we've done a state by state analysis to look at that and our estimates nationally are that the republican party needs to be between 42% and 47% of the latino vote if they're going to be competitive with the national electorate in 2016. fernando: matt, thank you very much for joining me today. matt: it's my pleasure, fernando. fernando: as both mitt romney and president obama found out in 2012, support from latino voters is the difference between victory and defeat in national elections.
fernando: iowa is supposed to be a proving ground for presidential candidates. experts say the caucuses help reveal their strengths and weaknesses. so how did this century old tradition become the game changer in the political process? >> one. two. three. four. fernando: caucuses have been around for 100 years doing the local business of political parties. it wasn't until 1972 those parties started using the meetings to gauge presidential politics. drake university professor dennis goldford is an expert in the process >> it occured to party officials to say, by the way, while you're here, whom do prefer to be the party's nominee.
: between democrats and republicans. for republicans, it is a matter of writing your candidate's name on a piece of paper and totaling the numbers. >> all we got to do is hang tight. alright. hang tight. hang tight. fernando: democrats do a lot more wheeling and dealing. >> do we as a group want to support one of these unviable candidates over here by sending anybody to help viability, maybe preventing somebody else from another camp, to get another delegate? fernando: goldford explains those caucusing often decide who they don't want to win and maneuver votes away from them. but he reminds us, while both parties go about caucusing differently, the result is the same. >> it provides an idea of what the local party thinks or their preference vote. >> the caucuses are a completely meaningless event with tremendous politcal impact. fernando: the delegates elected by the caucuses reflect