GVSU expert: What presidential candidates should do after Iowa caucuses

Erika King
Erika King

Grand Valley political science professor Erika King said that the next few weeks in the presidential election cycle will be important in deciding who will become each political party's eventual nominee, in part because of how momentum has shifted following Monday's caucuses in Iowa.

(Listen to Erika Kings entire interview here)

King said it is interesting that both major political parties have strong candidates facing off against each other, which is not always the case. She also said that Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign took an interesting tactic on the way to winning Iowa: combining old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground campaigning to gain endorsements and personal connections with advanced analytics and data mining to make appearances in locations where voters were likely to support his candidacy and also turn out to caucus on his behalf. 

"That kind of strategic, careful planning turned out well for Cruz, at least in this campaign," King said. 

An interesting note about the democratic caucus-goers, King said, was the age discrepancy by candidate, where Hillary Clinton was favored by most voters over the age of 65, while Sen. Bernie Sanders was overwhelmingly supported by millennial voters.

King said Sanders' popularity likely has to do with the general dynamics of the nominating process. 

"During the nominating process of both parties, people who are the most involved tend to be the most liberal and most conservative arms of their respective parties," King said. "The key is to appeal to them enough to secure the party nomination, but not go so far that they can't come back to the ideological middle to secure the center of the political spectrum where a vast majority of the electorate can be found."

King said the next step for candidates will be critical, and that planning for the next step of their respective campaigns might be difficult.

"They'll need to be aware that they'll be campaigning in very different states and that messages that resonate in one state may not do well in another, simply because different issues are important to people in different places," King said. "The candidates will have to plot a more complicated strategy than they may have in the past because of their need to appeal to vastly different people in different areas."