In an exclusive conference call with AEM members, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the outcome of this year's presidential election will hinge on whether Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are able to mature into better general election candidates.
Two days after a series of Midwestern primaries helped Clinton and Trump secure strong positions in their respective parties, Gingrich laid out the political and policy implications for the equipment manufacturing industry.
"The question you have to ask yourself is, 'Does Hillary figure out a general election campaign style that's better than her primary style?'" Gingrich asked.
"If she's an effective general election candidate, then places like Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania and New Hampshire become very dangerous for our Senate candidates," the former House speaker added. "On the other hand, if in fact she's an ineffective candidate, then our candidates can probably run despite her."
Most polls right now show Clinton leading Trump, whose primary campaign has at times divided Republicans and prompted open concerns that he could cost the GOP in down ballot races this fall.
Gingrich said the key question for Trump is whether he will become a nominee like Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964, who fractured the Republican Party, or more like Ronald Reagan in 1980, who eventually rallied the GOP to a landslide victory that fall after a divisive primary campaign.
"Between now and the convention, is Trump able to gradually bring in more people such that he's more Reagan than Goldwater?" Gingrich asked.
"I think in almost every case, Republicans keep the House," the former speaker predicted about this fall's elections. But the Senate, he said, may be a different story.
"In the worst case, Republicans lose the Senate by maybe 1 or 2 seats and then have to regain it in 2018," Gingrich explained.
The call with Gingrich began a series of opportunities AEM will organize for members this year to learn more about the 2016 elections and their implications for the equipment manufacturing industry. To learn more about the series, contact Michael O'Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org) in AEM's Washington office.