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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Outsiders: Fiorina, Carson, and Trump

At The New York Times, Ross Douthat writes:
But the growing evangelical embrace of Carson is arguably a greater folly than Trumpmania. That’s because the Donald, for all his proud ignorance about policy detail, is actually running an ideologically distinctive campaign: He’s a populist and nationalist, a critic of open immigration and free trade and a backer of Social Security and progressive taxation, and he’s drawing support from working-class Republicans who tend to share those views.
In fact, Trump's positions are similar to those of Pat Buchanan, who is a fan.  In 1992 and 1996, Buchanan ran for the GOP nomination, and in 1996, he won the Reform Party nomination, which Trump seriously considered seeking.  Donald Trump = Pat Buchanan plus four billion dollars and minus forty IQ points.

Carson also resembles also-rans of the past:
And unfortunately evangelical voters have a weakness for this kind of pitch. From Pat Robertson in 1988 through thin-on-policy figures like Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, even Michele Bachmann briefly in 2012, the evangelical tendency has been to look for a kind of godly hero, a Christian leader who could win the White House and undo every culture-war defeat. (The resilience of evangelical support for George W. Bush as his presidency went sour reflected a persistent hope that Bush might be this hero in the flesh.)
Such unrealistic ideas are hardly unique to the religious right. But evangelical culture, as James Davison Hunter notes in “To Change the World,” his magisterial account of recent Christian engagement with American politics, has a particular fondness for the idea of the history-altering individual, the hope that “one person can stand at the crossroads and change things for good.”
CNN reports that the outsiders are currently leading:
Carly Fiorina shot into second place in the Republican presidential field on the heels of another strong debate performance, and Donald Trump has lost some support, a new national CNN/ORC poll shows.
The survey, conducted in the three days after 23 million people tuned in to Wednesday night's GOP debate on CNN, shows that Trump is still the party's front-runner with 24% support. That, though, is an 8 percentage point decrease from earlier in the month when a similar poll had him at 32%.
Fiorina ranks second with 15% support -- up from 3% in early September. She's just ahead of Ben Carson's 14%, though Carson's support has also declined from 19% in the previous poll.
Driving Trump's drop and Fiorina's rise: a debate in which 31% of Republicans who watched said Trump was the loser, and 52% identified Fiorina as the winner.
READ: The complete CNN/ORC poll results
...
But one established politician has seen his standing rise after flashing foreign policy chops on the debate stage. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida -- identified as Wednesday's winner by 14% of Republicans, putting him second behind Fiorina -- is now in fourth place with 11% support, up from 3% in a previous poll.
Astonishingly, Walker is in danger of being sent down to the minors:
Five other candidates received less than one-half of 1 percentage point support: former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker's collapse is especially stark.