Donald Trump is free to cherry-pick his polls. But his decline is clear.

27 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A new direction in U.S. politics.

Supporters of Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Hillary Clinton’s personal favorable ratings hit a low mark in the latest Fox News national poll, while Ben Carson’s ratings climb to new high in the wake of his news-generating comments on Muslims and the presidency.Rewind six months ago to when Franklin Pierce University revealed the first poll results for the 2016 presidential election and two individuals who have been heavily involved in politics for the past three decades, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, were the top candidates.Late one night in January, 2005, Carly Fiorina sat in a hotel room in Davos, Switzerland, where she was attending the World Economic Forum, in a state of angry dismay. Fast forward six months and the emerging front-runners on both sides in New Hampshire now are candidates who are outsiders to presidential politics — Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

She was the C.E.O. of Hewlett-Packard, and she believed that, in an effort to undermine her, members of the board were leaking confidential information about the company to the press. Can Trump win the GOP nomination? “I think so” is Clinton’s assessment, though he also adds on CNN, “I mean, how do I know?” The two-term president says he’s hasn’t run for office in a long time and doesn’t “have a good feel for this.” From cyberspace to space itself, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says “strength is really the defense against aggressiveness by others” from cyberspace to space itself.

The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive has rocketed to second or third place in national polls with strong debate performances and vigorous attacks on front-runner Donald Trump. She had instructed lawyers to question all the members, so that they could “come clean.” Now, on a conference call, they still denied the leaking.

Carson tells ABC’s “This Week” that he favors offensive cyberattacks against anyone who attacks the United States — “they need to understand that there will be consequences.” In an interview Sunday on Fox News, the former Florida governor says the polls now showing Donald Trump in the lead don’t mean much five months before New Hampshire Republicans vote. But her rapid rise also brings new scrutiny to her business background and her bare-bones campaign as she tries to sustain the momentum into the barrage of votes that begin in February. As she writes in “Rising to the Challenge,” her latest memoir, “Fearing for their positions, they behaved in an unprincipled fashion and ousted me from mine.” Others have portrayed events differently, attributing Fiorina’s termination to unhappiness over H.P.’s merger with Compaq. Is this the puzzle piece to solve the mystery of why a celebrity businessman and former neurosurgeon are neck and neck in the Republican race, while the non-household name of a lifelong senator from Vermont is winning the polls for the Democrats? All this might have been of interest solely to business-school case writers had not Fiorina unexpectedly risen to the top tier of Republican Presidential contenders, joining the two other non-politicians in the race, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

In G.O.P. circles, she is being greeted as a savior of, if not the Party’s electoral prospects, its sanity—as someone who might allow the focus to return to candidates like Jeb Bush. It’s an awkward space, at the intersection of outsiderdom and fear of the Donald, but, for the moment, Fiorina has claimed it. “It’s only in this country that you can go from being a secretary to the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world,” she told Jimmy Fallon, on “The Tonight Show,” last week. “Wow,” Fallon said. “It’s unbelievable.” It’s also, as with much that Fiorina says, a little more complicated than that. In 1976, Cara Carleton Sneed graduated from Stanford, where her father had been a law professor. (He later served in the Nixon Administration and on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.) She enrolled in law school at U.C.L.A. but dropped out. She worked briefly in a real-estate firm as a receptionist, then got married, moved to Italy for a while, and returned to attend business school in Maryland, after which, Stanford degree and M.B.A. in hand, she was hired as a management trainee at A. None of the people tested — not the president, not the vice president and not the 2016 contenders — garner positive ratings from at least 50 percent of the electorate.

But by the time such dubious accounting became public, leading to a collapse of Lucent’s stock, Fiorina, who was never accused of wrongdoing, had left for H.P., with a signing bonus worth sixty-eight million dollars and millions more in pay. And with a net percent favorable score of +65 points among Democrats, Biden is also more beloved by his party than Clinton (+48 points) and Bernie Sanders (+38). Senate race in California, is best remembered for an Internet ad, produced by her campaign, that portrayed her primary opponent as a demon sheep with glowing red eyes. Here are the scores for the other candidates tested: Marco Rubio (+35), Fiorina (+30), Ted Cruz (+21), Trump (+12), Chris Christie (+4) and John Kasich (+3).

She won the nomination, then, in the general election, produced a video showing the Democratic incumbent, Barbara Boxer, as a swollen disembodied head. In the current primary campaign, Fiorina has been the target of some misogyny, particularly from Trump, so it is instructive to contrast her dignified response to his comments about her face and her voice—“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr.

Trump said”—to the use, in her anti-Boxer ad, of footage of fingernails scraping a chalkboard. (Boxer responded with an ad noting that Fiorina had fired thirty thousand employees at H.P., and she won by a million votes.) It is a contradiction that Fiorina seems to revel in; in her memoir, she decries sexism and, in the next paragraph, rejects the “feminist movement” as “politicized” and “captured by a left-wing agenda.” For Fiorina, the center of that agenda is reproductive rights, or, as she puts it, the “butchery” of abortion. In general, Trump (98 percent familiar) and Bush (96 percent familiar) have the highest name recognition of the candidates tested, while Kasich (63 percent familiar) is the least well-known. In the most recent G.O.P. debate, she called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and dared President Obama to look at an undercover video about the organization, made by an anti-abortion group: “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ ” There are graphic segments in the video, but it does not show what Fiorina described. The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,013 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from September 20-22, 2015.

Yet, when Chris Wallace, of Fox News, asked her to acknowledge that “there is no actual footage of the incident,” Fiorina replied, “No, I don’t accept that.” As a campaigner, she is more adept than Trump at pivoting from blunt personal attacks to confident policy proposals that tend to be described as “crisp”—full of details, if not facts. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and 5 points for Democrats and 4.5 points for Republicans. Of the Affordable Care Act, she says, “What you see is emergency-room visits are up over fifty per cent.” (There is no apparent source for this number.) As an executive, she can “read the fine print” of the science on climate change, which, according to her, shows that there’s nothing the U.S. can do about it. California’s drought, she contends, is a “man-made disaster,” not because of climate change but because “liberal” politicians, worried about fish, prevented the state from building dams. “That’s pretty dumb,” she told Chuck Todd. (One of those conservation-minded politicians was Ronald Reagan.) Businesspeople, she says, are “accountable.” Politicians are not.

And yet Fiorina defends her record at H.P. with numbers that are often muddled (pointing to revenues instead of profits) or opaque (“We tripled innovation”). In recent years, H.P. has gone through so many changes that it’s hard to tease out what her effect on its long-term prospects has been. (Meg Whitman, the current C.E.O., recently announced that the firm would split, cutting up to thirty thousand jobs.) In the unsettled period after Fiorina’s departure, Fortune reported, employees sometimes ignored managers’ instructions, a maneuver they called “flipping the bozo bit.” It sounds like a G.O.P. code name for a Trump-removal operation.

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