November Election Update: Candidate popularity fluctuates wildly

Louie Goldsmith, Opinions Editor

As the 2016 Presidential Election cycle begins to kick into high gear, we have entered the phase where a series of candidates will gain fleeting national attention. These candidates will jump in the polls, only to move back down as quickly as they rose, as another candidate takes their place.

This will be especially true on the Republican side, as they have more than four times the number of candidates the Democrats do, and it has already been seen with the meteoric rise and precipitous fall of former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. According to RealClearPolitics polling averages, Fiorina began the campaign at 1 percent in the polls before jumping up to as high as 15 percent in the crowded Republican primary. Recently, her polling numbers have fallen to as low as 5 percent as she has received less media attention.

Developer Donald J. Trump, meanwhile, fallen out of the lead in the Republican field, with approximately 19% support in a nomination contest that includes 14 other major Republican candidates.

His replacement in first place is former pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, whose calm attitude is the antithesis of the combative Trump.

The Democratic nomination process continues to be defined by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders has been able to mobilize significant grassroots support within the liberal wing of the Democratic party.

However it remains to be seen whether Sanders will galvanize support from outside this natural base or if his numbers in the polls have hit their ceiling. Though a strong candidate in terms of credentials, many view his opinions as too liberal to have significant support among the independents in swing states who often decide election.

Whether or not Sanders is the Democratic nominee, he has brought to the forefront issues surrounding income inequality and the disparities seen in the wealth gap. These had been prime concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement but have yet to inspire change within the halls of power.

Clinton struggled early on to overcome the controversy surrounding emails she received on a personal server related to the tragic death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on Sep. 11, 2011.

The House of Representatives select committee that has investigated this issue has come under fire recently for being a partisan endeavour to harm the Clinton candidacy. Much of this criticism came as a result of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s comments which confirmed this theory. If this is true, then it is a despicable attempt to use an American tragedy for political gain.

The other Democratic candidate in the race, Governor Martin O’Malley, has struggled to make a name for himself as Clinton, Sanders and the Republicans have dominated in the media.

As Americans prepare to cast their ballots, we must truly work to understand the policies of individual candidates, rather than focusing on the bluster and rhetoric that often characterizes candidates in the era of the 24-hour news cycle.