Carly Fiorina Skyrockets in Polls
by Ned Sheehan on Friday, October 16th, 2015
The 2016 Presidential election primaries have already filled up with an array of outsider candidates, including retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, self-declared socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, businessman and television personality Donald Trump, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. On August 6th, Fiorina gave a commanding performance in the GOP “Kids’ Table” debate for lesser-known candidates. On September 16th, during the main debate, Fiorina again dominated, coldly humiliating Donald Trump and making an impassioned plea against Planned Parenthood.
As of October 11th, Fiorina is 5th in the national CBS News poll, behind Trump, Carson, Tea Party leader Ted Cruz, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, after falling from 3rd place the week before. But does Fiorina have what it takes to win the nomination, or will she continue to lose her momentum in the grueling months ahead? In my personal opinion, she is not a good long-term candidate.
On one hand, a primary is too hard to predict at this stage, especially one as volatile as the 2016 Republican race. Normal political logic—which dictates that radical candidates may succeed for a short while but ultimately fail to secure the nomination—would say that Fiorina is just a fad, that she’ll fizzle out soon. But then again, normal political logic also said that Trump would fade out after the first debate and that Carson would be a bottom-feeder at this point. This election has consistently shown itself to be anything but normal.
Of the “outsider” Republican candidates, Fiorina stands alone with an equal chance of winning and losing the nomination. Her greatest strength and weakness are one and the same: she is politically and personally “normal,” especially when compared to the blustering Trump and the evangelical Christian Carson. In addition, as the only female, she provides a sharp contrast to the other candidates. Despite all her “outsider” rhetoric, Fiorina is a fairly standard, solid-right wing Republican, though she does not fit the standard profile of a Republican presidential nominee; this fact could cause problems for her down the road.
More importantly, Fiorina’s dubious business and political career may hurt her in upcoming elections. Throughout the debates, it has become clear that she was unsuccessful as HP’s CEO, though she still tries to use her business experience to bolster her bid. She is also still dealing with outstanding debts from her failed 2010 Senate campaign, as a Senate filing from January shows. Due to all of these factors, I feel it’s unlikely that Fiorina will secure the nomination. Yet what has been particularly interesting in the weeks since the last debate is the reaction of liberals towards her.
The backlash against Fiorina among left-wing media outlets since the debate has been surprisingly strong. For example, the debate about the veracity of her comments on Planned Parenthood, and a video purportedly showing aborted fetus tissue being sold for money, rages on; according to Time Magazine, medical experts have questioned whether or not what she referred to as an aborted fetus is in fact a miscarriage. Multiple liberal media outlets have also asserted that Fiorina is not a feminist, due to her pro-life views.
Democrats have long attracted women voters, but it is probable that fiscally conservative feminists will be drawn to Fiorina’s policies. There are, without a doubt, many women who are pro-life, and Fiorina definitely throws a wrench into the whole concept that pro-life people are anti-woman or anti-feminist. In addition, when questioned about Donald Trump’s sexist comments concerning her appearance, she merely said, “I think women all over this country have heard what Mr. Trump said.” The fact that she has demonstrated a commitment to sticking to the issues has struck a chord with many Americans. Nevertheless, I think Carly Fiorina’s dubious past career will prevent her from winning the GOP nomination.
Fiorina, along with Trump and Carson, is a demagogue, appealing to the people who have been unhappy with the Obama administration by using half-baked ideas and fire-and-brimstone rhetoric. As a moderate, the trend towards populist but radical candidates concerns me. I believe the term “outsider” has become a way for non-politicians to disguise their lack of experience. Fiorina hasn’t been successful in any field she’s entered. Odious as he is, at least Trump has run successful businesses. Fiorina failed as CEO of HP and ran her senate campaign with a mix of painfully obvious inexperience and aloof arrogance, at one point releasing an attack ad that referred to an opponent as a “demon sheep.”
There are more centrist Republican candidates, such as John Kasich, Marco Rubio, or even Chris Christie, who focus on how great America can be and is, not on how awful it will become if they aren’t elected. Their policies are meant to help working Americans and small business owners achieve success.
The Republican party is at a fork in the road. They can go the route of demagogues, and thus towards self-destruction, or with moderate, centrist candidates who care about ordinary people, not their own inflated egos. If they make the wrong decision, then millions of Republicans will have no candidate to represent their interests. Let’s all, even Democrats, hope they choose the positive route. Every citizen deserves a candidate who cares about them, and Carly Fiorina, as well as all the other “outsiders,” doesn’t fit the bill.
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