Political outsiders have the edge in this campaign

Campaign 2016
by Kent Covington & Nick Eicher
Posted 9/09/15, 01:30 pm

The staff of The World and Everything in It has profiled 22 possible 2016 presidential candidates in its “White House Wednesday” series. Now they take a look at who’s ahead and who’s making moves as the primaries get closer.

Inside out. Campaign 2016 has placed a premium on being a political outsider. Donald Trump still holds a healthy lead over all Republican challengers in national polls. He hit the 30-point mark in a new Monmouth poll. Recent polls show another political novice, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, running a close second to Trump in Iowa, Florida, and Georgia. Former tech CEO Carly Fiorina trails both Trump and Carson by wide margins, but she has surged since her standout performance in the first GOP debate last month. She’s now expected to be on the main stage in the next Republican debate. Many analysts were certain all three of those candidates would have faded by now. Instead, they’re gaining steam. But political tradition says nothing that happens before Labor Day really matters. At this exact point four years ago, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was leading the Republican field with 29 percent of voter support in the national average of polls—almost exactly where Trump is now.

A closer look at Carson. In contrast to the bombastic Trump, voters find Carson genuine and down-to-earth.He grew up poor and often talks about his faith. His speeches tend to focus more on general values and principles without getting into the details of policy. Poll numbers show voters find him likable, and he’s conservative on most issues, so he appeals to the party’s base. Carson is firmly pro-life. On marriage, he said, “I support same-sex civil unions, but to me, and millions like me, marriage is a religious service not a government form.” He said he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, but he acknowledges it’s now the law of the land, all the while emphasizing the need for conscience protections. Carson doesn’t spend as much time on foreign policy as some other candidates. Generally, he believes the United States needs to strengthen its military and take a stronger leadership role in the world. He’s criticized the Obama administration’s foreign policy, especially the Iran nuclear deal. But foreign policy is an area about which he’ll be expected to lay down more specifics going forward.

So many problems. The last three polls of New Hampshire Democrats show Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with at least a 7-point lead there. Sanders’ rise in the polls has coincided with an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’songoing email scandal. With her campaign seemingly on the ropes, she openly acknowledged the problem in an interview with MSNBC over the weekend. “I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions,” Clinton said. MSNBC asked whether anyone on her staff ever tried to discourage her from using a personal email account for government business.“We had so many problems around the world. I didn’t really stop and think what kind of email system will there be,” she said. Though polls show most voters believe Clinton is dishonest, she said her truthfulness would be proved by the time her campaign runs its course.

Listen to “White House Wednesday” on The World and Everything in It.

Nick Eicher

Nick lives in St. Louis, loves the Blues (as in the NHL), is executive producer of WORLD Radio, and co-hosts WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickEicher.

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