Winner of the Week – 27 September 2015: Carly Fiorina

Fiorina, Carly carlyforamerica

Carly Fiorina (Source:

So far we’ve had two GOP primary debates, the first hosted by Fox News and the second by CNN. The outstanding performer in both was Carly Fiorina. Whatever you think of her positions on the issues, and I disagree with rather a lot of them, she has been clear, eloquent, displayed a deep knowledge of the issues, and has yet to make a single misstep. Her intelligence and ability to think on her feet are obvious.

There are so many candidates for Republican nominee, that both debates so far have had to be split into two. Before the first debate on 6 August, Fiorina was in 14th place out of 17 and thus couldn’t even make it into the top ten and into the main debate. Facebook Fox 2nd Tier Result Aug 2015However, almost every commentator had her winning amongst the seven candidates on the under card easily. A Facebook/Fox News poll saw her 75 points ahead of her nearest rival Rick Perry, who has since dropped out altogether.

Her success in the debate was the catalyst for more coverage over the following weeks, and she took full advantage of it. By the time of the second debate on 17 September she’d risen seven places in the polls to seventh. Unlike any of the other second tier candidates, she was now in the top ten and on the main debate stage.

Some predicted  that in competing with higher ranked candidates she wouldn’t have the same advantages as she had in the other debate. This both underestimated her and poorly judged the state of the Republican race. For a start, there had been no indication so far she would be fazed in any debate. Secondly, the quality of the Republican candidates has little relation to their place in the polls. The worst candidate in the field, Ben Carson (more about him later), has been in the top five since the beginning, and then there’s Donald Trump. Donald Trump has been winning pretty much since he announced his candidacy and, for a long time was increasing his support. The rise slowed after the first debate, and has now, in my opinion, stopped.

GOP Second Debate WinnerAnd a big reason for the people finally noticing the emperor has no clothes is Fiorina. Her performance in the second debate was as good as the first. There were many popular polls after the debate that had Trump winning by a wide margin and Fiorina second, but they were not properly conducted polls, and their results can safely be discounted. In such polls, most people vote for who they already support, and repeat voting is common. There is never any way to know whether the voters in such polls are representative of the wider electorate. In his usual petty way, Trump is so annoyed with Fox News for pointing this out that he is refusing to appear on Fox News for the “foreseeable future” because they have treated him “very unfairly.”

Valid polls ask respondents to assess who did the best regardless of who they support, and people only respond once, of course. They also cover a representative selection of the population. So far, there have been at least three valid polls – one by Fox News, one by CNN/ORC, and the third by Quinnipiac University, the results of which I’ve summarized above. All have Fiorina winning by a wide margin. (The Quinnipiac poll didn’t include those who appeared in the second debate, hence the “N/A” for four candidates.)

Before the first debate, Fiorina was virtually unknown except in California where she had an unsuccessful try for a senate seat. In 2010 she tried to unseat the incumbent Barbara Boxer (Democrat), where she lost by a wide margin – 42.2% to Boxer’s 52.2%. The factors that were brought up by the Boxer campaign in opposition to Fiorina were a decision to lay off 30,000 workers, that she shipped jobs overseas, that she owned two yachts, and that while she was CEO of Hewlett Packard equipment was sold to Iran, some of which went to the military. These things are starting to be mentioned again now that she is becoming better known. Her answers have mostly been accepted so far by the GOP electorate, but they will likely damage her in a general election.

After the first debate, which had the biggest audience ever for a Republican debate, a CNN/ORC poll showed that still 43% of USians had never heard of her. Following the second debate that figure has reduced to 30%. It seems that as people are getting to know her, her popularity is increasing. Her favourability ratings definitely are. A CNN/ORC poll conducted 13-16 August gave her a favourability rating amongst all USians of 27%. Their latest poll, conducted 17-19 September, shows that has increased to 34%. This is second equal with Jeb Bush and only Ben Carson is higher at 40%. Amongst registered Republicans her favourability was 54%, third behind Ben Carson (65%) and Marco Rubio (57%).

The result amongst all USians is significant. Only she and Ben Carson are popular with both Republicans in particular and all USians in general. I really can’t see Ben Carson’s popularity lasting once the electorate at large become aware of some of his extreme religious views. Carson thinks being gay is a choice, prison turns you gay, Obamacare is “the worst thing since slavery,” evolution is a lie perpetrated by The Devil, and the Biblical End Times are near. Here is one of the many examples of Carson’s warped, conspiracy-theory-ridden opinions:


Once the wider electorate becomes aware of such views, Carson surely won’t be able to retain his popularity. People will realize that being soft spoken doesn’t mean you’re a good person. There’s a lot of really nasty stuff behind that well-cultivated bedside manner. This will help to elevate Fiorina.

Most Republicans are looking for an outsider. Most of the candidates are trying to portray themselves as that person, but Republicans aren’t buying it. There are only three who fit their criteria: Trump, Carson and Fiorina. In the Fox poll referenced above, 49% of voters answered agreed with the statement that Trump “is too mean and blunt to be president.” Carson has multiple extremist views that are at odds with the majority. That leaves Fiorina.

At this stage, I’m still picking her as vice-presidential candidate rather than president, but it’s certainly not impossible that the first woman president will be a Republican rather than a Democrat.

17 Responses to “Winner of the Week – 27 September 2015: Carly Fiorina”

  1. Yes, regardless of whether or not you agree with her views Carly certainly comes across as a capable person worthy of very serious consideration. I hope that enough people in the system recognise that and vote accordingly.

  2. Unfortunately Martin, at this stage a lot of the GOP voters seem carried away by emotion or are star struck by someone who just says, “I will make it better, believe me.” A majority don’t seem to be doing a lot of thinking.

  3. Yakaru says:

    Holy heck! I’d heard that Carson thinks Obama will invoke martial law and cancel the election, but I thought he was just using a dog whistle for the tea party (or is it a duck caller that gets them going – not sure).

    I hope he is only popular because he’s the candidate who *looks* the least Trump-like. If that’s true, then those same people should back away if they hear stuff like that.

    I thought Carly F was the first candidate to give Trump the kick in the nuts he deserves — “Everyone heard what you said”.

    • Yeah, she was – that’s what I was referring to – obviously not very eloquently! 🙂

      To me Carson is one of those people who says things in such a nice way, and you can get so hypnotised by the tone that you don’t realize just what he’s saying. That’s about the only explanation I can come up with anyway for why someone who talks so much rubbish is so revered. Everyone, on both sides of the aisle, likes him!

  4. paxton marshall says:

    Fiorina largely undercut her performance with her false statement that the clandestine Planned Parenthood tapes showed an aborted baby with a beating heart having its brain extracted. Her claims about her performance at HP were largely bogus as well. Her foreign policy statements were alarmingly hostile and militaristic, calling for sending more arms to the Middle East and warning that one of the first calls she would make as president would be to demand Iran open up its nuclear facilities to U.S. inspectors at any time.

    Rand Paul was the only one with anything reasonable to say about foreign policy saying, “We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us.” Jeb Bush made the most asinine statement saying his brother kept us safe, when 9/11 happened on his watch and he then sent 6,000 US service people to their deaths.

    • As I said, personally I don’t like what she has to say, I’m just remarking on how well and successfully she says it.

      I mostly wrote this post on Friday, and I’ve since seen a new ad she’s put out. It takes the lie about the aborted foetus a step further, actually showing it in the ad. Dishonesty aside, it’s an extremely powerful ad. I imagine it will play appeal strongly to her constituency, most of whom won’t care about the nuances of whether it’s real or not.

  5. paxton marshall says:

    “it’s certainly not impossible that the first woman president will be a Republican rather than a Democrat.”

    Heather, I think this would have been more appropriately posted as “Worry of the week”. I’m worried.

  6. Mark R. says:

    I would be desperately saddened if ANY Republican won the Presidency. There is so much at stake, and I see the future of America at a tipping point with the 2016 election. The GOP candidates are all ideologues with radical views that are far from main stream. As with all US elections, if there is high voter turn out, Dems win, if not, Reps win. I think Bernie would garner a high turn out, Clinton, not so much. Still way too early to tell what will shake out. Democrats need to start having debates to get some name recognition out there and to show the people how different their platform is. C’mon DNC get your sh*t together! Thanks for the analysis.

    • It is scary, and I suspect Fiorina will be on the Worry page before the election is held. The only amelioration I can offer is that the candidates are dragging themselves so far to the right for the primary, they won’t be able to make it back far enough towards the centre to succeed in the general election.

      At the moment though, the Dems don’t have much to offer. The suspicion of Socialism in your country is such that I doubt Sanders can win a general election, and Clinton has really screwed up on the email thing. It’s been getting wall-to-wall coverage on Fox for weeks. They know the only way to win is to tear her down.

      If she looks like she could falter, Biden will get in to give the Republicans an alternative they can stomach.

  7. Diane G. says:

    Oh, Mark, I think the Dems should wait as long as possible to get into the constant TV-coverage blitz. The election is still so far away! Even the primaries.

  8. AU says:

    I also agree she should have been Worry of the Week, especially after I read:

    I worry a lot more about people like her who have extreme views but can still try and come across as moderate, as opposed to someone like Trump who you know isn’t a moderate.

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