Outsiders Storm the Gates of the Parties

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

A new Fox poll shows Hillary Clinton continuing to hemorrhage support in her bid for the Democrat nomination. Still the favorite for the nomination, Clinton holds a 19-point lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Last month, however, her lead over the aging socialist was 40 points. Among Democrat men, Sanders edges Clinton by 3 points.

In general election match-ups, Hillary is locked in close battles, or losing, to a host of potential GOP rivals. Her only clear win in hypothetical match-ups is against Carly Fiorina, who is still largely unknown by the public. Even in that head-to-head, against an opponent few voters know, Clinton can only manage 47 percent.

It will take every lever possessed by the Democrat party, and its allies in the media, to get her past an unlikely Democrat challenger and to the nomination. Whatever the eventual outcome of the primary, the ability of the national Democrat party to control its nominating contest was been severely weakened.

A similar story is playing out on the Republican side of the ledger. In the latest Fox poll, Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican field, drawing 25 percent support in a very crowded field. His support is unchanged since the first GOP debate, despite the fact that virtually every professional pundit panned his performance.

The Trump phenomenon, though, should not obscure other, equally important, developments in the GOP race. Second and third place in the GOP contest are retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Other than these three, no other GOP candidate earns double-digit support.

The fact that these three candidates hold the top spots in the latest poll is important, given the treatment of all three by the moderators of the Fox News debate. The aggressive, “gotcha,” questioning of Trump has been detailed everywhere. Less noted is the fact that Cruz was essentially shut out of the debate by the moderators and questions to Carson were inordinately focused on his alleged lack of preparation of the Presidency.

Fox anchor Megyn Kelly actually challenged Carson on his unfamiliarity with major political parties in Israel and his apparent uncertainty over the internal defense commitments of the Baltic States. It is not clear that America’s foreign policy, set by people intimate with this kind of trivia, is any more coherent for the knowledge.

While most professional D.C. pundits predicted that the volatile Republican field was simply an expression of summer polling, the position of the outsiders has strengthened as summer nears its end.

In the last month, support for Cruz and Carson has doubled. Trump’s support has grown 50 percent. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have lost half their support. Scott Walker has given up a third of his backing. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has seen two-thirds of his support evaporate.

In the aftermath of the Fox debate, pundits and anchors on the network widely praised performances by Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee. Their support dropped slightly or was unchanged in the week after the debate. The news personalities heaped criticism on Trump, whose support hasn’t wavered.

Like the Democrat party, the national Republican party and its erstwhile allies at Fox and the Wall Street Journal, are losing their control of the party’s nominating process. The top three GOP candidates, Trump, Carson and Cruz have support of almost half the Republican voting base.

Challengers to Hillary Clinton, including those Democrats who haven’t yet made up their mind, total more than half the Democrat voting base.

It is clear that 2015 is the summer of our discontent. That discontent isn’t just with the direction of the country or anxiety about economic or world affairs. It is discontent with the political parties themselves.


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