Guest column: Where is the 2016 Election headed?


Students watch Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential debate. A watch party was hosted in Hamilton Hall on Tuesday. 

The Democratic debate is over, and the general consensus is that Hillary Clinton did a great job securing her position and perhaps weakening the movement to recruit Vice President Joe Biden. One recent national poll showed Clinton with support from 45 percent of Democratic voters, Bernie Sanders with 25 percent and Biden with 10 percent. Interestingly, Biden’s favorability ratings are much higher than those for Clinton or Sanders.

One interesting fact is that the mainstream media and the Democratic establishment are doing everything they can to discredit Sanders and open the field for Clinton to win the caucuses and primaries.

Most political analysts and pundits see the success of political outsiders in the Republican candidate field as an anomaly. The problem is that Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina seem to be holding on to their front-runner positions in the polls.

CNN is accused of reportedly burying a Facebook post that showed Sanders the winner. You can read the information yourself at Media Equalizer.

My analysis is that Clinton secured the “establishment,” Democrats and women voters. Bernie Sanders increased his appeal to the passionate followers including “millennials” and “progressives.” Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland, performed well and may get some traction in the next cycle of polls. Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee eliminated themselves from contention with very poor and often weird debate performances.

For Clinton, the biggest challenge is to find an effective way to pivot and face the Republican opponents.

She also still faces more email scandal and Benghazi hearings in Congress.

The concern of her using a personal email server out of her Connecticut home to conduct government business, instead of using official government email systems, is still clouding her campaign.

Benghazi, Libya, is the city where a 2012 terrorist attacked the American consulate, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and several other Americans. Republicans have accused Clinton, who was then secretary of state, of not sending military support to fend off the attack. The Benghazi hearings are the longest in history, surpassing the infamous Watergate scandal hearings and costing taxpayers millions. There have been several formal investigations and reports on the Benghazi attack and none of them have accused the former secretary of state of negligence.

To Clinton’s great advantage, recent revelations by several Republicans have undermined the credibility of the Benghazi hearings. It now seems more likely that the hearings have a political motivation, which is to destroy Clinton’s approval ratings.

Who is likely to be the GOP candidate for president? It’s still early in the game, but, for now, it looks like Trump or Carson.

The most recent Fox News poll indicates that “Support for Carson in the race for the Republican nomination has nearly doubled in the last two months. He is seen by voters as being more ethical than others, and he has the largest number of GOP primary voters who say they would definitely vote for him.”

In that poll, Trump has 24 percent support and Carson 23 percent support of likely Republican primary voters.

However, in a CNN poll, it’s Trump with 36 percent and Carson with 22 percent in Nevada and South Carolina. That’s an astonishing lead by any standards.

In New Hampshire, it’s Trump maintains his lead, followed by Fiorina, followed by Ben Carson.

It is expected that one of the mainstream Republicans — such as Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz, who are more likely to have staying power — can shrink the field of GOP contenders by outlasting them. Then in January 2016 surge to, let’s say, second or third place. Then the experienced candidate would fight a protracted battle through the Southern primaries and move west for what may become a very long primary season.

It is perfectly possible for Trump and Carson to be the GOP candidate for 2016. That would be fascinating and unprecedented. Trump has shown “resilience and staying power,” and his crowds keep getting bigger, much to the panic and consternation of mainstream commentators.

It would also be astonishing if Sanders, a democratic socialist, won the Democratic nomination. The 2016 election could be a truly interesting and very high turnout election. Record-breaking numbers of people watching the Democratic and Republican debates prove that there is a lot of buzz. I also think this year younger voters and especially college student turnout will break all previous records. That’s good for democracy.