2nd GOP Debate Impressions

The Donald is garnering the "we are mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore" vote. And right now, there are a lot of people who feel that way! The candidate who can best connect with these voters without the bluster of the Donald will do well going forward. My guess is that when it comes time to actually cast ballots, the Donald's support will diminish.

The calmer we don't like what is happening in Washington vote is going to Ben Carson. The guy is a neurosurgeon so he isn't about bluster. He is about calm. In the debates, you aren't going to see him set the stage on fire with rhetoric. Voters who see DC as talking screaming heads on TV are drawn to his calm and inspirational life story. My guess is that his support is going to be less volatile compared to the Donald's.

The remainder of the "we don't like what is happening in Washington" vote is looking for a home and may find a home in Carly. Her debate performance was pitch perfect: stylistically firm (more energy than Carson) and in command of facts and policy (no bluster like the Donald). Will be interesting to see if she gets a rise in the polling numbers in the next week or so.

Among the Senators (Paul, Cruz, Rubio), I think Rubio has the best chance for a breakout. Paul has only inherited a portion of his father's very loyal following in the Libertarian wing of the party and doesn't appear to be able to go much further than that small subset of the GOP voters. Cruz has a strong following in the activist wing but his "intense" style which endears him to the activists makes him less appealing to the typical GOP voter. Thus, Rubio is positioned for a breakout. His grasp of policy and articulate speaking set him up for success. The only downside is the youthfulness of his appearance. While Democratic voters often swoon for a younger "Messianic" types of candidates (think JFK, Clinton and Obama), Republican voters by nature appreciate more experience.

For the governors (current and former), it is hard to say who will break out among Bush, Walker, Kasich, Cristie, and Huckabee. Each has plus/minuses.
Bush: plus, the last name, governor of big state; minus, the last name, governor too long ago
Walker: plus, winning battles in Wisconsin; minus, low-key speaking style
Kasich: plus, experience in Federal and State level; minus, maybe perceived as too much of an insider
Cristie: plus, combative style; minus, combative style
Huckabee: plus, loyal following; minus, known more for being a TV personality than as a former governor.
Bush probably has enough "establishment" support to outlast the other governors if he doesn't make any big mistakes. Kasich is probably the natural heir to the establishment supporters should Bush faulter.

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