As it stands now, there’s a good chance that Carly Fiorina may not qualify for the top ten, prime time CNN debate in a few weeks, and again be relegated to the so called “kiddie table.”
This is because CNN is using an average of all polls, including those taken early on, before Carly made such an impact at the FOX debate. CNN says it can’t change its already published rules (though I don’t see why, as CNN insists, FEC rules won’t let it do so) and Reince Preibus and the RNC seem unwilling to pressure CNN.
By any reasonable, and rational analysis, Fiorina is now a bona fide top ten candidate, and absolutely deserves to be in the prime time debate. Using early polls to skew the numbers fails to reflect the considerable support her candidacy has attracted. Or, as Trump would say, it’s just plain DUMB and STUPID.
However, a careful analysis suggests that Carly would actually be far better off if she ends up being excluded from the prime time debate.
Consider the following:
1. When she first announced her candidacy, most voters had no idea who she was. Some vaguely recalled that she was fired as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. ( Indeed, for the first months, that’s exactly how the MSM identified her on multiple TV appearances:
2. At the end of July, she gave a superb speech at the Reagan Library, and also displayed an innate ability to connect with people during the Q&A afterwards. It put her on the radar.
3. She’s shown her political smarts by pretty much ignoring her Republican opponents and focusing all her attention, and attacks, on Hillary Clinton. They have all been well crafted, and have increased her popularity with GOP voters.
4. Most people hadn’t heard of her until the first, early FOX debate. 6 million people watched that, no doubt in part drawn there by the main event that followed. She stole the show. It was a bravura performance, and immediately she was recognized as the BIG winner that night, even more so than anyone who appeared later in the evening.
5. Since then, capitalizing on the new awareness she’s engendered, she’s been out and about; hundreds of appearances in the early primary states, and almost as many on TV. And in every one, she’s been near flawless..nary a mistake, not even a misstep.
Now, as the CNN debate nears, and the question of “will she or won’t she” qualify for the top ten is the hot topic, she’s getting a lot more MSM attention. It’s like fans of an NCAA basketball team on the bubble the week before Selection Sunday, wondering if they’ll get an invite to the Big Dance.
Asked about it repeatedly, she’s made her case, calmly and dispassionately, as to why she should be included on prime time. But, to her credit; no wining, no complaining, no “it’s not fair”..and she always ends up saying that if she doesn’t make it, that’s OK too, she’ll keep on working hard to get her message out.
So let’s consider Carly’s two debate scenarios:
1. She doesn’t qualify for the prime time debate. That in of itself will be big news leading up to the debate; as a result she’ll get a lot of sympathy, and most importantly, it will guarantee a huge audience for the early debate. CNN is smartly starting it an hour LATER than FOX did, which will enable more people to watch. I think 10 million will tune in, primarily to see her. It will be the “Carly show,” and she’ll have the opportunity to star. More importantly, she can completely IGNORE the other guys on the stage, and speak directly to the audience. And if she decides to take a few shots at Trump, and/or the media, she can do so without any distraction. And of course she’ll have a free-fire zone to target Hillary.
2. She gets enough of a bump in the upcoming polls that she qualifies for the the top ten prime time debate. There are already several things we can say with absolute certainty in advance of the debate:
It’s going to get a huge audience..likely bigger than FOX’s 24 million.
It’s going to be a circus, and dominated by Trump. He will be the star, the center of attention, and the focus, the target, of most others on the stage. Remember the little spat between Rand and Christie? That was nothing. We’ll have lots more of those types of exchanges, as several candidates will attempt to forcibly interject themselves into the exchanges.
Carly simply won’t be able to do that. It’s not her style. She’ll get lost. Her quiet, careful, reasoned comments and speech patterns won’t stand a chance against a stage full of stampeding alpha-males.
No, for her sake, I hope that Fiorina doesn’t make the prime time debate.
The next debate (CNBC)is at the end of October, and there’s another one (FOX Business) a few weeks later. Prior to these , the GOP field will have been culled to less than 10..probably 6-7, and she’ll have a prominent position..likely in the top 5.
While this analysis may surprise some, I suspect that Carly’s already figured it out, and may indeed be secretly hoping that she doesn’t make the top ten cut this time out. As I mentioned above, whenever she’s been asked about it, she’s made her case quietly, dispassionately, and says that whatever happens, she’ll continue to make her case to the voters.
Fiorina is sort of reverse-channeling Hamlet….
“Methinks the lady doth NOT protest too much…”
And wisely so……….