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Politics

The Electorate’s Attraction to “Political Outsiders”

Political outsidersWith the 2016 Presidential Race in full swing, and the primary elections being five months away starting with the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1, it seems that this summer the voters have been attracted to “political outsiders”, or non-establishment picks. 

According to the most recent presidential polls from the Monmouth University Polling Institute, real estate mogul and T.V. personality Donald Trump holds first place among Republican candidates with 30 percent of GOP support. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is in second with 18 percent in a national poll conducted on Sept. 3. 

GOP Candidate and former Hewlett- Packard CEO Carly Florina Carly Florina, another candidate that has built up her presidential résumé from outside the political realm– has gained some recent recognition by working her way up from the “Junior Varsity” debate to the main stage for the second GOP debate tonight. 

The original GOP front- runner, Jeb Bush, has dropped to third place garnering 8 percent of the vote– which is four points less than he had in August, according to the most recent Monmouth University GOP poll. 

Much of the summer GOP polls and news coverage have surprisingly been dominated by the non-traditional candidate, Donald Trump. It is too early to tell where Trump will be in the polls when the Iowa caucuses come around, but many people did not expect him to have the success that he’s had so far. It seems as though the more noise he makes, the more popularity he gains. 

The Republican candidate that seems to be negatively affected by Trump the most is former front-runner Jeb Bush, who went down in the polls after stepping into some back and forth with Trump this summer. 

 Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science Department at Monmouth University said about Trump, “He has benefited from there being sixteen other candidates.” 

He continued, “The Republican establishment would like to narrow the field.” Dr. Stephen Chapman, assistant professor of political science said, “Trump is more of a disruption to Republican elites.” 

Popular outsider candidates like Trump have held temporary leads in early presidential polls before. This held true with Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the summer of 2008 and with Herman Cain in 2012. Patten said, “Because primary season is so long it is not uncommon for voters to have a summer fling with a non-traditional candidate.” 

When asked if outsider candidates like Trump and Sanders would just be another summer fling, Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson, associate professor of communication, said, “There’s just no way to know this.” 

He continued, “The media would like it to be different, because it keeps the story going and keeps the audiences’ interest, but the outsider candidates have the same problem that outsider candidates always have: as the election gets closer more people pay attention, more likely voters pay attention, and they tend to go for establishment candidates.” 

Patten said, “Trump is different because he is more well-known and has his own resources.” The GOP field is filled with viable establishment alternatives such as Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is doing well in New Hampshire and gaining recognition, and Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush who have still been consistently in the top five of most polls. 

On the Democratic side of the race, Hillary Clinton remains the favorite. According to a Monmouth University poll published on Sept. 8, her lead has shrunk from 52 percent of support of Democratic voters in August, to 42 percent this month. 

Behind her is Vice President, Joe Biden, who has not yet declared his candidacy, who is at 22 percent and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with 20 percent. Sanders and Biden are practically tied for second due to the 5.3 percent margin of error for the Monmouth University poll. 

Although Hillary Clinton is still the leading candidate for the Democrats, her numbers seem to have been affected by her recent email scandal with her unfavorable rating reaching 53 percent in a recent poll from The Huffington Post. This could be contributing to the rise in the popularity of Democratic candidaten Bernie Sanders. According to the Monmouth University poll 71 percent percent of Democrats still have a favorable rating of her while only 17 percent view her unfavorably. 

Patten said, “The e-mail scandal does not hurt her with Democrats as much as it will with independent voters in the general election.” Phillips-Anderson said, “I believe Sanders would be gaining in popularity because there is a large group of Democrats who are disenchanted with Hillary Clinton and want an alternative.”

Chris D’Elia, a senior political science major said, “Bernie Sanders to me appeals what our generation wants: someone who’s stuck to their convictions over the course of their time working in politics. Someone who’s proved that their word means something.” 

Bernie Sanders may prove to be the only alternative. Chapman said, “It would be very surprising to me if I saw another big name Democrat enter the race.” Chapman still believes Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination saying, “If I were a betting man I would bet on Hillary.” 

He continued, “Sanders appeals to the liberal wing of the party but most winning candidates try to appeal towards the center and Hillary is going to be that centrist candidate.” 

The Iowa Caucuses are a long time away, so it is hard to tell what these outsider candidates can do and whether they are just the flavor of the week like outsiders of the past. Patten said, “What is different now is public distrust of both parties, Congress, and the Washington Establishment.” However, he continued, “You never know in Politics.” 

IMAGE TAKEN from Fox News

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