This election season has turned into the season of angry voters. Gone are the rational minds of middle class men and women interested in electing qualified, intelligent, and responsible officials. Competent candidates such as Scott Walker have long since dropped from the Republican primary race because they did not wish to take part in a circus. Many more have dropped because they cannot keep up with the circus.
Just this past week, in the wake of the New Hampshire primary, Carly Fiorina and Governor Chris Christie have suspended their campaigns. Few suspected they would hold on for so long after multiple dismal debate performances, but Christie’s last debate performance was probably the most surprising.
In a Hail Mary, Christie slammed Rubio for rehearsed lines, memorized slogans, and repetitive talking points. Rubio’s defense? To repeat the same memorized response. Pundits have declared that Rubio’s “fall from grace” has “changed the Republican race in a rapid and powerful way.” Rubio’s stumble appeared to trouble many New Hampshire voters, as results show him pulling a paltry 11 percent.
These results, however, do not spell doom for Rubio’s presidential aspirations. Projected to pull about 19 percent of South Carolina, Rubio still has a strong and enduring hold on the minds of rational voters. He seems to be the only candidate who could stand a legitimate chance against the Clinton machine.
As more Republicans fall from the race, the main question is to whom voters will turn. Cruz, with a strong showing in Iowa, has peaked too early to maintain support through the convention in July. While many do not expect him to drop from the race, his unpopularity can cause him to fade into the back of the pack.
Speaking of the back of the pack, Jeb Bush may not make it through the South Carolina primary. His legacy, though, is difficult to beat in an extremely young field. Bush could hang on all the way to the convention with less-than-fantastic results as a safe choice for establishment Republicans.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump shows few signs of wavering, with a solid showing in the Iowa primary, a win in New Hampshire, and an expected victory in South Carolina. Trumps’ following consists of an angry crowd of middle class men and women who are fed up with the current Republican establishment. Instead of the anticipated rise of the far right in this election cycle, we are seeing the rise of the radical center.
The radical center is not in favor of clear-headed policy that will create stable economic and social change, but is for a radical reevaluation of the state of our country. Voters have declared that they are done with “the establishment kicking the can down the road” and “the political elites sitting in their high towers.” They see fire and passion in Trump.
It is clear that Trump is not going to go away any time soon. With so many candidates falling from the race, we have to consider whether voters will turn to candidates for policy reasons or out of anger. Before the last Republican debate in New Hampshire, the majority of Christie voters were meant to turn to Rubio. With comparable policy suggestions to Christie’s, Rubio would be a rational choice. A main draw of Christie, however, was his New Jersey attitude. More of his votes can go to Trump than anticipated if voters are more drawn to anger than to rational policy decisions.
Fiorina voters will most likely migrate to Rubio’s camp, along with some Carson voters. Fiorina and Carson initially pulled many voters because they come from outside of politics. Their lack of experience became a problem when Carson could not speak on foreign policy and Fiorina could not defend her tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
John Kasich showed some promise in New Hampshire, pulling 16 percent of voters and 4 delegates. But few expect a surge in the polls with an expected 9 percent in South Carolina. His voters will most likely go to Rubio or Cruz.
This election cycle has been anything but predictable—from Trump lasting this long to Bush fading so early—and it looks like nothing but more uncertainty for the near future. One would hope that as the field narrows, voters will select a candidate who they believe will make the best policy decisions, who will best represent the U.S. on the international stage, and who will not embarrass the U.S. What voters have shown, however, is that they favor the exact opposite—Trump.
Rubio stands the best chance against Hillary Clinton. Trump will continue to embarrass the country and create a spectacle of our election process. It is clear many voters are only considering their anger in this nomination process. Let’s all hope voters come to their rational minds before July.