Most political pundits are having a devil of a time trying to explain The Donald phenomenon and how it is that three people who have never held elected office – Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina – can be generating so much enthusiasm.
The answer, as Reed Galen writes in his American Singularity blog for The New Conservative, may be that conservative voters have “been married to Establishment Republicans for many years and the fire left the relationship long ago. Voters and the politicians who represent them are not speaking the same language, aren’t concerned about the same things and are not even listening to one another. Like any relationship on the skids, once the communication goes, the inevitable breakup is only a matter of time.
What is interesting is how Carson, Trump and Fiorina have gone about making their case to skeptical voters. Trump’s place on the political spectrum is ultraviolet – you can’t see it but you keep getting a sunburn from it so you know it’s there. Carson lays out his vision almost philosophically; less specifics on programs or policy and more about why we do things and how we should do them.
Fiorina, of the three, is most in line politically with the majority of the “Establishment” Republican candidates. However, her ability to crystalize a compelling message in simple, but substantive terms is her competitive advantage. Other candidates give speeches. Carly makes a solid case for conservatism over liberalism, and why her experience is what the country needs.”
In any event, we are still learning about all the candidates, and with such a crowded field, it is difficult for anyone outside of the outsider trio to make much impact without throwing verbal bombs (even if they are en Español as Jeb Bush recently tried – only to get smacked down inmediatamente by El Trumpo). We’ll get our chance to see them in the ring in just a few weeks.
But in the meantime, here are a few more data points worth considering. An organization called Crowdpac calculates candidates’ relative levels of conservatism based on a data model using in large part campaign finance records. “Donors to political campaigns tend to support candidates who share their policy preferences and/or personal interests, and screen out those who do not. This generates large amounts of information on where candidates stand. In analyzing the patterns of who gives to whom, our data model is able to make inferences about the issue positions of both candidates and donors. Additional information on candidates’ personal contributions made to other campaigns are incorporated to improve the model’s predictions. As a result, it represents a new way of forecasting how a candidate would likely vote and legislate if elected to office.”
Using those metrics, here’s how the candidates fall on the conservative continuum:
Trump is only just to the right of George Pataki. Fiorina is solidly in the middle, and the most conservative of the outsiders is Ben Carson. Surprised? Is this reality? Who knows…but perhaps in Trump the GOP has FINALLY come up with a candidate who can fire up the base AND ultimately attract those elusive “moderates.”
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]