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Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks at the Heartland Forum in Iowa. Chapman professor and presidential scholar Lori Cox Han says that not having a woman on the Democratic ticket would reflect a tone-deafness the party probably can't afford during this election cycle. (Photo/Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons)

In Presidential Election Year, Could Women Be the Ticket? 5 Questions with Presidential Scholar Lori Cox Han.

Everyone is talking presidential politics these days. For insight, we tap the expertise of Chapman University presidential scholar Lori Cox Han, Ph.D. Han is a political science professor and author of several books on the presidency, including In It to Win: Electing Madam President” and most recently “Advising Nixon: The White House Memos of Patrick J. Buchanan.” 

1. Is 2020 the year we see a winning ticket that includes a woman?

Chapman Presidential Scholar Lori Cox Han
Lori Cox Han, Ph.D.

At the start of 2019, we had six women running for the Democratic presidential nomination. That’s phenomenal. It is groundbreaking to see that number increase so dramatically. This campaign cycle has the potential to break some significant barriers. I’ve said this before – if the Democrats don’t have at least one woman on the ticket, they deserve to lose. Because in this political environment, to ignore that opportunity when you have qualified women seeking the nomination would be a level of tone-deafness that could come back to hurt them. It doesn’t guarantee that Democrats will win, but I think it can have more negative results for them moving forward. I’ve gotten a lot of stunned reactions from this idea: If the Democrats really want to roll the dice, they should put two women on the ticket. I think Amy Klobuchar-Kamala Harris could actually be competitive.

2. Speaking of women on the ticket, is Trump likely to choose a different running mate?

Trump doesn’t really need Mike Pence anymore. Pence helped carry the support of social conservatives, but that voting block is probably going to stick with Trump whether or not Pence is on the ticket, due in part to the fact that Trump delivered on his promise of strict constructionist judges on the federal bench. The scenario that would be fascinating is if, without controversy, he could get Pence off the ticket and replace him with Nikki Haley. She is one of the rising stars of the party.

3. Some say it’s time to rethink the Electoral College. Thoughts?

The process under which it would have to be removed is a constitutional amendment, unless you want to call a constitutional convention. As fascinating as that would be, I’m afraid of where we’d be as a country if there were a constitutional convention, and I’ll pass on the opportunity to see that. At any rate, a constitutional amendment needs a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate. Then you need three-fourths of the states to approve it. There just is not a lot of incentive for any state to approve such an amendment. 

4. Is there an issue you’d like to see the candidates pay more attention to?

Debt and the deficit. It keeps going up, and some voters are very concerned about it, but neither party wants to take ownership. Fiscal conservatives are rare in Washington these days. 

5. Why are there so many candidates?

We’ve had a switch from party-centered politics to candidate-centered politics for the past few decades. Parties are weak, and the plurality of voters are independents as opposed to claiming either major party.  Also, in this media-dominated environment, there are a lot of incentives for candidates who may not be viable to run anyway as a means to increase their name recognition and/or relevance on the national level for future political or business opportunities. 

Display image at top/ By Lorie Shaull from St Paul, United States – Senator Amy Klobuchar speaking to journalists at the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, Iowa, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77707972

Dawn Bonker

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