Political Analyst David Yepsen Sparks Capacity TDU Crowd to Lively Exchange

By Laurence D. Schiller

yepsenThe atmosphere was electric the evening of May 18, as Tenth Dems University Dean Sharon Sanders and Managing Vice-Chair Barbara Altman introduced David Yepsen to a standing-room-only crowd at the Northbrook Public Library.

Mr. Yepsen, who was keynote speaker at the Tenth Dems Annual Awards Dinner in 2015, served as the chief political reporter for The Des Moines Register, where he worked for 34 years, and is the current Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute housed at SIU Carbondale.

Yepsen maintains strict political independence.  He began his remarks by characterizing this election as perhaps the most interesting and strange in recent history, with both parties divided.  In his opinion, though, the GOP is undergoing a real civil war.  In contrast, the Democrats, while passionate for each of their candidates, will most likely unite behind the eventual nominee, he opined.

Yepsen observed that the media, including himself, has misunderstood the Trump phenomenon.  As a result, he feels cautious about predicting the outcome of the fall election, warning that the Democrats would have to work hard to beat Trump.  Noting that the election is still many months away, he cautioned that unpredictable outside factors, such as ISIS’s actions, could have an enormous impact.

Next, Yepsen ticked off the election positives of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, whom he considers the all-but-presumptive Democratic nominee.

Factors that could lead to a Trump victory include:

  • The electorate’s fear and anger
  • Hillary’s negatives
  • Great strength among blue collar non-college white male voters
  • An apparent global turn to the right politically
  • Racism and sexism influencing certain voters
  • Hillary’s email issue
  • Trump’s being a good closer
  • How difficult it is for one party to get a third term in the White House, something that’s happened only once since the end of World War II

On the other hand, the electoral math doesn’t work very well for the GOP.  The number of white, blue collar, non-college educated voters has been declining, and Trump is going to have to either find more of these people to bring into the electorate or mend fences with other parts of America’s increasingly diverse electorate.

Yepsen’s list of factors that argue for a Clinton victory includes:

  • Democrats have an easier electoral path than Republicans, starting with 253 electoral votes vs. only 191 sure Republican votes.
  • Hillary is running in effect for a third term for Barack Obama, and President Obama’s approval rating has been rising. At 52 percent right now, it equals that of Ronald Reagan at the same time in his second term.
  • Even if it’s true that Clinton has difficulty energizing voters, Trump has energized African Americans, Hispanics, women, and others to vote against him.
  • Although Clinton has high unfavorables, Trump’s are significantly higher, and two-thirds of those who have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton still say she is qualified to be President.
  • Despite the high emotions right now among Sanders supporters, the Democratic Party is much more united than the GOP.

A spirited question-and-answer period followed Yepsen’s remarks, going on for more than 40 minutes. Topics touched on ran the gamut from how to interpret the polls, the extent of media bias, the amount of free media publicity Trump has enjoyed, and Trump’s mastery of “new media” like Twitter, to the issues between Sanders supporters and some party leaders and whether or not the “not Clinton” Democrats are likely to come out and vote for her when push comes to shove in November.

Yepsen, who does programs like this frequently, remarked about the exceptionally high level of participation.  “I’ve never had a group so interesting and knowledgeable,” he said.

At the start of the evening, Tenth News designer Michael del Rosario, a high school student, talked briefly about the Tenth Dems summer internship program.  Just before the Q and A period, Delio Calzolari, the Associate Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, talked about the late Jeanne Hurley Simon and the scholarship established in her memory.


Join us! Help elect Democrats in our area:

The Tenth Dems blog is intended to be a forum that builds community and provides for respectful and healthy exchange of ideas. We are open to different points of view and hope that all of our readers will feel comfortable engaging in conversation. Opinions expressed on this website belong to their respective authors, and publication does not necessarily imply endorsement by the Tenth Congressional District Democrats. Inappropriate comments may be deleted.