1. How has the American electorate changed over the last years and what is the possible impact on the forthcoming elections?
The American electorate has slowly been growing more demographically diverse over the last several decades. In 1984, non-Hispanic white males constituted 45% all American voters; this year, they will likely be only about a third. Women, Asians, and (especially) Hispanics all comprise larger shares of the electorate than they once did. In addition, younger voters have been trending more Democratic in recent elections. As a result, given that Trump polls very poorly among racial minorities and fairly poorly among women and the young, he will have to absolutely dominate among white men over 40 in order to win the election--he probably needs to win 75% of their votes. As no candidate in history has won such an overwhelming share of the older white male vote, it's a pretty tall order. That said, Hillary Clinton is exceedingly unpopular with this group, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility.
2. Religion is one of the major factors that may have an impact on the US presidential elections. To what extent can religion influence voters, especially in the so-called Bible belt?
Religion--and, in recent years, hostility toward religion--have come to play a very significant role in American electoral politics. The "God gap," or the difference in partisan support between those who attend church regularly and those who do so seldom or never, has become true chasm, at least among white voters. Increasingly, white committed Christians are overwhelmingly Republican, while more secular whites have been trending Democratic. Donald Trump, however, poses some challenges for this pattern. His style and personal history are off-putting to many Christians, and his commitments to conservative positions on the kinds of issues that religious voters most care about--abortion, homosexuality, school prayer, etc.--seem superficial at best. Conservative Christian voters tended to prefer Ted Cruz in the primaries, but Trump's selection of Mike Pence as a running mate was certainly in part an attempt to reach out to them.
3. What is the role that women can play in the next Presidential election?
Women voters will be critical to the outcome of this election, which is perhaps appropriate as the first female major-party nominee seeks the presidency. The "gender gap" will almost certainly be the largest in history, as women tend to react quite negatively to Trump and men react quite negatively to Clinton. Two key battleground groups will be young white women and older, working-class white women. White women under 40 tended to prefer Bernie Sanders to Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Will they rally behind Clinton in the Fall, or will they stay home or defect to minor-party candidates? Older, blue-collar white women may be torn between the idea of electing the first female president and Trump's populist, anti-establishment appeal that has been so effective among older, blue-collar white men. How these two sub-groups of women break will be critical to the outcome of the election.
Matthew Wilson, John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, Southern Methodist University, Dallas