- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have yet to shore up their bases.

Mrs. Clinton is looking to heal the primary wounds of rival Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ and his progressive supporters, who have threatened to stay home in November. Donald Trump has had a tough time attracting the support of establishment conservatives who worry he’s too centrist.

And each needs their bases to coalesce in order to win the presidency.

An analysis completed by The Wall Street Journal suggested since 1992, every candidate who ended up winning the White House had a favorable rating of at least 80 points among their own party. According to the latest WSJ/NBC News poll, Mr. Trump was dead even in his positives and negatives among Republicans and Mrs. Clinton was up among Democrats by 43 percentage points. Meaning, they both have a long way to go before they reach that 80 point threshold, if at all.

But there is something that could help them get there. Their vice presidential pick.

I nominate Mr. Sanders and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Let me explain why.

Let’s start off with the assumption that in order to win in November, both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton can’t lose the states their predecessors won in 2012 — that they need to at least hold that level of support.

For Mrs. Clinton it looks dicey in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and, perhaps, Nevada. A poll released on Thursday puts Pennsylvania in play.

“The biggest question in the presidential race at this point is whether hesitant Bernie Sanders fans are going to get behind Hillary Clinton or not,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “In Pennsylvania if the answer to that question is yes, Clinton will be a strong favorite in the state. If the answer to that question is no, the state will be a toss up.”

Mr. Sanders‘ campaign has excelled in the Rust Belt states, where his message of a rigged economy has resonated with white, blue-collar workers. He shocked many pundits with a primary win in Michigan, and nearly won Iowa, where he crushed Mrs. Clinton by 70 points among young voters.

In New Hampshire, Mr. Sanders pulled out a devastating victory, where among voters who cared the most about honesty and trustworthiness, 91 percent chose him. And although Mr. Sanders lost Ohio, he did win Democratic-leaning Independents and white males — two key demographics Mrs. Clinton needs to secure.

On the map, Mr. Sanders is strong where Mrs. Clinton is weak. He has been able to turnout the youth vote, the white male vote, and the Independent vote consistently — three areas where Mrs. Clinton has continually faltered. Voters also trust Mr. Sanders, and believe he’s telling the truth. Only four in 10 Democrats believe the same is true for Mrs. Clinton.

Now on to the Republicans.

Mr. Trump appears vulnerable in North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia and perhaps Utah — all states that Mitt Romney won in 2012. In order for Mr. Trump to win in November, he must at least hold these states, while flipping others.

Mr. Trump — who’s brash remarks about a federal judge has created a crisis among Republican leadership this week — needs a consistent, reliable conservative to be on his ticket. One who values the Constitution and won’t undermine conservative values. That person is Mr. Cruz.

Although Mr. Cruz lost the North Carolina primary, he did notch some impressive victories among key demographics. Mr. Cruz won over Evangelicals, women, the youth, the self-identified “very conservative”and among college-educated whites — groups where Mr. Trump needs to improve.

In Utah — a state where Mormon support for Mr. Trump is wavering and its governor has signaled he may or may not vote for the Republican presumed nominee — Mr. Cruz won by 69 percent, clinching all the delegates in the primary.

Although Mr. Trump won Georgia handily, the state’s demographics are swiftly changing, with more Hispanic voters on the rolls and a large African-American population. Same goes for Arizona.

Mr. Cruz isn’t a panacea for Mr. Trump’s problems, but he is a starting point. As a Hispanic, he can reach out to those populations troubled by Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Yes, Mr. Cruz is a polarizing figure himself, and has had his own polling problems among women, but he has been able to turn out conservative votes.

Throughout the primary, Mr. Cruz had an impressive turnout operation. His father worked churches every Sunday, and his campaign networked with pastors and received the endorsements of Christian conservative leaders.

Mr. Cruz’s organization kept him competitive in many states where he wasn’t predicted to win (Iowa, Maine), and many of his supporters will be at the Republican convention come July because of it.

If Mr. Cruz could somehow meld his operation into Mr. Trump’s campaign — where Mr. Cruz remains focused on driving out conservative voters while Mr. Trump works the industrial states, and more moderate voters, it could be a winning combination.

It may also just be a dream.

Although Mr. Sanders has given some indication he’d be open to a vice presidential seat, Mr. Cruz has given none.

Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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