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Presidential Horse Race 2016: The phenomenon of Trump

Entering perhaps the most important week thus far in the campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, the question of “who’s in, who’s out” (Thursday’s debate, that is) is becoming a little clearer.
Donald Trump
Not because of the polls, necessarily. We won’t know the final results of the five polls Fox will use to determine the participants until Tuesday afternoon. No, we’re getting a better picture based on the behavior of the candidates themselves.

On Sunday, Rick Santorum questioned the criteria used in selecting the participants for the debate, so we can infer that means he’s on the outside. Santorum referenced 2012 in arguing polls at this point don’t predict who will be there at the end of the process, but his comparisons of this year to 2012 aren’t exactly accurate either.

The field is much stronger this time around, where there are several good conservative choices and even several candidates vying for the establishment pick. In 2012, it was Mitt Romney… and a collection of candidates vying for the title of anti-Romney.

Here’s a look at how Rick Perry and John Kasich are working hard to try and secure a spot in the primetime debate.

When all else fails, bash the media (no matter how well deserved)

“The media” will not appear on any ballots in the primaries or in next year’s general election, though journalists are certainly garnering a large amount of angst from Republicans these days.

Carly Fiorina took on Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush – and the media – on Saturday, saying “I always find it fascinating the media tends to gravitate toward stories of money that funds conservative causes. I don’t see big newspaper articles about George Soros or Tom Steyer. The point is the media doesn’t like one kind of money but is OK with another type of money. I think everyone ought to play by the same sort of rules.”

Sarah Palin also took her digs at the pundit media’s coverage of Donald Trump. She writes, “Itty-bitty pundits thinking it’s clever to mock Americans’ opinions are finding the joke is on them. Cozy in their seat of judgment, blowing each other’s horns, protected by a glass screen. Ask yourself: just who ARE these windbags? And what do they build? Towers of paperclips? Lists of Twitter followers?”

Perhaps Donald Trump has become so popular with the “common” people because his blunt honesty reminds them a lot of… Sarah Palin. Palin was hated by the establishment and the political and media elites. So is Trump.

There might be something to that theory…

Palin also praised Scott Walker and Ted Cruz (on Mark Levin’s show), lest we think she’s already made up her mind on whom she’s supporting for the nomination.

Is Rand Paul really struggling or is it a media myth?

There have been a number of articles recently addressing the “problems” with Rand Paul’s candidacy, questioning his campaign operation, enthusiasm for the trail and true ideological underpinnings.

W. James Antle III (in the Washington Examiner) poses the question of whether Paul isn’t libertarian enough to attract the allegiance of his father’s devoted young liberty-minded followers.

Antle then answers that it’s really too early to pass judgement on Rand. “The main reason to have any optimism that Paul can outperform his father in the primaries is that his favorability ratings among Republicans and conservatives, while slipping, are much higher” than Ron Paul’s ever were – and remain higher than for Donald Trump or Jeb Bush.

For a more thoroughly researched look at the current status of Paul’s campaign, try Matthew Boyle’s piece at Breitbart. In Boyle’s lengthy look at Paul’s campaign, he makes it clear that Rand is in it for the long haul and should not be discounted just because several liberal publications – or Republican opponents -- say he’s floundering.

Here’s predicting that Paul’s more mainstream approach to politics will allow him to avoid any harmful moments in the upcoming debates as well. Ron Paul’s fierce defense of liberty was always refreshing, but his failure to avoid controversy in the debates definitely hurt him with many conservatives.

Trump building organization and his polling lead

Some people who downplay Donald Trump’s lead in the polls (Jeb Bush called him a “phenomenon”) may be consoling themselves with the fact Trump isn’t familiar with the political game and the particulars it takes to compete in counties and precincts.

But according to Kevin Cirilli at The Hill, Trump is building an impressive campaign operation in key early voting states, too. “Earlier this week, Trump announced that he'd hired Michael Glassner, a former chief of staff to 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.”

“… Glassner is joining a Trump team that is expanding on the ground in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — key caucus and primary states that are often decisive in the march to the nomination.”

Meanwhile, Trump hit 30% support in another new poll (from the One America News Network). Few would dispute that Trump has a lead – and it may be growing – but a 17 point margin also seems a bit far-fetched.

But it is interesting…

Anyone want a 3rd term for Obama?

President Obama recently said he believed he could win a third term if he were constitutionally able to run again.

Unfortunately for Barack, American voters don’t agree. Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Examiner: “Rasmussen Reports on Friday released a poll showing that just one third of likely U.S voters would keep President Obama in office if he ran again. Even among Democrats, only 57 percent would vote for him a third time.”

Mitt Romney would’ve loved to see those numbers in November of 2012.

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