In a stunning condemnation of the slate of candidates running for office this year, Nate Silver pointed out yesterday that Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with a net favorable rating. On the Republican side, the only candidate who even draws neutrality is Ben Carson (37 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable). Among the rest, Trump leads the pack at -25 (33% favorable, 58% unfavorable), followed by Jeb Bush (-22), Rick Santorum (-22), Rand Paul (-16), Chris Christie (-13), Mike Huckabee (-12), Carly Fiorina (-8), John Kasich and Ted Cruz (-7) and Marco Rubio (-1). On the Democratic side, Hillary actually has a higher favorable rating than Bernie (42 to 38) and Martin O’Malley (a measly 18), but a much higher unfavorable rating (50 to 35 for Bernie and 29 for O’Malley). So with one of the biggest slates in recent memory, though one that is surprisingly small on the Democratic side, only two candidates can claim the same level of favorability as unfavorability.
After years of the American people growing increasingly frustrated with not only the President but Congress and the Senate as well, is this really the best we can do in selecting a candidate to represent us for the next four, or maybe even eight, years? Bernie Sanders does speak to the needs and concerns of the average American better than any other candidate, arguably, while the divisive tone of Trump’s campaign encapsulates the political insularity and partisan divide that has undermined our democracy (together with the power of money). But how often is a presidential campaign won or lost on the issues? One does begin to wonder if we are starting to see a repeat of 2008, though, where the anointing of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate by the mainstream media came a little early, while the Republicans beat each other up to such a high degree they had a hard time running an effective campaign after their candidate had been selected.
Hillary is certainly beatable in a general election, and one does wonder if Bernie Sander’s message can play in the heartland, but looking at the GOP race, is there really a candidate who can aptly represent the people of the nation, either domestically or abroad? Can the Republican active electorate really choose the racist, jingoistic, Islamaphobe Trump as their candidate? We shall know more in the coming weeks, as Iowa and New Hampshire give us our first glimpse of where the race is headed. Clinton has apparently put a lot of stock into Iowa and New Hampshire and is behind Sanders in state organization beyond those first two primaries, with Sanders, by the way, forging a rather commanding lead in NH. Let the games continue~!