On the Eve of GOP Debate, Only Two Candidates Matter

There will be a third GOP debate on Wednesday night. If you don't have the right cable or satellite subscription, apparently, you are not welcome to attend. (Correct me if I'm wrong, in the comments section below.)

But who cares, really? It will be a low information event.

The debate will be split into two parts, lower and higher ranking candidates separately, but the debate involving the higher ranking candidates will include more of them, and only two have anything close to poll numbers that matter. Not that polls are everything, but if you are a candidate that has failed to break 10% ever, and for several weeks have had single digit numbers, you are not really a candidate. Time to suspend your campaign. (Suspend instead of leave the race because you never know if a bomb is going to drop on one of the leading candidates. Usually, hopefully, a political bomb, not an actual bomb.) So, Wednesday's debate will be very low value in terms of information.

"What happened to Carly Fiorina?", you may ask. This:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.37.17 AM

She had a bump, one time. I have no special analysis to offer here, but the bump may have been temporary for a number of reasons. Republicans don't like women, we knew that, and she is one. Also, her history of not being a very good CEO may not have helped her argument that she'd be a good president because she was a good CEO. Also, getting caught in the lie wrt Planned Parenthood may have been a factor.

The graphic at the top of the post is made from the HufPo Pollster, and includes only likely voters and non-partisan polling agencies. This is why Carson and Trump are about even. If you include all polls and all respondents, Trump trumps Carson.

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Of course, some are suggesting that the GOP would never be crazy enough to vote for either Trump or Carson, and that Rubio is the real contender. For example ...


I am not sure I am crazy enough to understand how the GOP works, so what do I know?

By Richard Erskine (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

"Republicans don’t like women, we knew that, and she is one."

They don't like non-pale people either, and Carson is one.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

When I saw the tweet that led me here my first thought was:
"Two is right but I'll bet his focus is on the wrong two."

Sure enough. I'm not sure who the tortoise is
but I'd bet these two hares won't be there.

By Joey Tranchina (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

Joey, this is not me speaking, but rather, the polls.

But you may be right. That thought is also in the back of my mind. But, this is the third debate, and Trump's position as leader of the pack has been steady since before the first debate. Many thought the first debate would draw some of the more traditional candidates, like Bush or Rubio, up into contention, but that didn't happen.

It really seems to be the case that Trump is the guy to beat and may well win the nomination. I would have thought Carson would have been a flash in the pan, but that may not be what is happening either. We'll see! Or, actually, not see in my case because I cut the cord a long time ago.

Also, getting caught in the lie wrt Planned Parenthood may have been a factor.

Silly Greg, trivial details like facts don't matter to a large fraction of the Republican primary electorate. They would like her all the more for doubling down on this lie, were it not for the first two points you mentioned. As well as the infamous "demon sheep" ad she ran in her last campaign.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

For what it's worth, a small non-random sample of comments on these folks.

I just spent a long weekend with my wife and much of her family: all brothers and sisters, some nephews and nieces, some cousins. Discussion over drinks invariably went to the Republicans.
- Nobody other than Trump and Carson were mentioned - the others "aren't important"
- Several summarized their opinions on Trump/Carson by saying "I can't believe anyone takes seriously anyone who is as stupid as they are"
- Several said they thought Carson "has good ideas", but couldn't explain what they were. Their comments ended with "And he seems like a really nice guy."
- The few that remained slammed Carson because (sad, really) of his color, and loved Trump for being "a man for the common person and a straight shooter"

Since I know them, the individual positions on Trump and Carson didn't surprise me. The universal dismissal of anyone other than Trump and Carson did.

Carly Fiorina could make the argument that she would be as good a president as she was a CEO.

Shall we poll the HP employee community of the last 10-15 years?

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

The universal dismissal of anyone other than Trump and Carson did.

I wonder if this tendency of conservatives to dismiss the "also-rans" is just a manifestation of their adoration for "winners" and general disdain for anyone who doesn't dominate their fellow man (especially when it comes to financial power, physical power, or military power).

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

Carson appeals to the Horatio Alger mythology that Republicans swoon over. He also has an appeasing, non- threatening demeanor that doesn't alarm panic-prone racists... much.

If the wingnuts think that he will pliantly do their bidding while confusing Democrats with his Diversity-ness, he may have a shot.

Trump and Carson are both mostly there for atmospherics, but since the Republican party is all atmospherics anymore, these two have perforce moved center stage. At the end of the day, I'm guessing that the GOP will go with loudest, most foamy mouth every time. Carson is nutty enough, but he just can't jump up and down and scream about it without scaring off the donors.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

As someone watching relatively keenly from Australia I must admit I'm baffled and worried.

I thought it was pretty clear from all I read & heard early on (& from just knowing who Trump is)that Trump was a obvious joke candidate and that Jeb! (BUSH!!!) would very probably be the eventual Repub nominee. Sure Jeb! (BUSH!!!) had a megatonne of political baggage and wasn't the best campaigner but well.. Rmoney ditto. (McCain too really.)

I've stuck to this understanding for a long time because surely it was going to be like last time with Mittens Rmoney where you have the early novelty candidates, the search for someone , anyone, other than an admittedly piss poor establishment figure who really had the unenthusiastic but solid backing of most of that mob.

But now, well, its looking less and less likely that the safe early bet is right. I am surprised Trump even entered the race for real and more surprised he's kept going so well and hasn't just imploded early on. Of course, it is still early .. yegods US elections go on forever! But.

Trump or Carson both strike me as appalling prospects from what I've read here and elsewhere notably Ed Brayton's blog and in the media generally. I can't see why they are so popular.

Trump seems such a transparently clownish narcissistic buffoon I am amazed he's been able to fool anyone into voting for or supporting him. But that does seem to be happening.

Carson, well some of his comments have just been beyond appalling* and I really don't see where his charm lies. He's an obviously deluded Tea party conspiracy theorist who just has no grasp on reality and clearly advocates a Christian theocracy.

Surely, surely the majority of Americans, even the majority of Republicans are smarter and better than this? Surely they cannot actually nominate or have someone like either Trump or Carson win their Presidency? A position that effects the whole world incl. and esp. my nation which tends to follow the US lead in so many areas.

Yet then I read this and see these polls and those like them and, yeah, it looks worryingly, incredibly likely that the Repubs will be nominating one of these utter klowns** for the 2016 election.

I can only think and hope that if they do, it'll be the Tea Party's "extinction burst" and result in a whopping landslide for Hilary Clinton, who I do like and think will make a good POTUS.

Still, its scary that people this bad can be taken that seriously and get that close to that much power and influence on the world.

* See long long list here :


** Spelling deliberate to differentiate them from the good funny type of clowns - and rodeo ones - who don't deserve to be associated with these sociopathic laughable but not in a good way politicians.

" Surely, surely the majority of Americans, even the majority of Republicans are smarter and better than this?"

Um. Well, no. Uhg.

Uhg indeed. I know its not a very high bar to set there -even for Republicans - but ..yeah.

PS. A commenter (lorn) over on Mano Singham's blog* has an interesting theory that Lindsey Graham could eventually come out of this battle with a stage managed coming out and the support of the party establishment and then become the nominee. Is that plausible at all?

Given that I gather Graham is one of the relatively more moderate contenders (along with Pataki & Christie) and thus seems a better alternative to me, I'm kinda hoping so.

* Comment #7 here :


Trump reminds me of a schoolyard bully with an arsenal of boasts and insults.

Carson utters self-evident Republican truths with pastoral equanimity.

Fiorina, as far as I can tell, says essentially the same things, but does so with aggressive, self-righteous conviction.

The differences I can see are mainly differences of style, not substance, and this goes for every candidate with even a minuscule chance. Their policies are minor variations on a frightening theme.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 27 Oct 2015 #permalink

My guess is that Main Stream Media is downplaying everyone except Trump and Carson because most of the others have real money and real donors behind them, either directly or as PACs.

If they want to raise their polling status, there is only one way to do it, pay money to Main Stream Media to run political ads.

By David Whitlock (not verified) on 28 Oct 2015 #permalink