Is Fiorina the Outsider Who Can Win?

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Peter Stevens via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (photo credit: Peter Stevens via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Many GOP strategists feel that when Trump begins to fade, the main beneficiary of his decline will be Senator Ted Cruz. While the establishment may go out of their way to block the candidacies of Trump, Carson, and even Cruz, there is an undeniably strong impulse in the base to nominate a political outsider. In fact, in the most recent CNN/ORC poll, Trump, Fiorina and Carson, the outsider candidates, combined had 53% of the vote—24 percent, 15 percent, and 14 percent respectively.

In an early installment of “A Cigar with Frank Cannon,” I was asked if I felt Fiorina could beat Trump in a head to head race. I said that if I was a betting man, and I am, that I would pick Fiorina. I’m still a betting man, and I think Fiorina has become an even safer bet. Her recent debate performance has only solidified my thinking on that. She’s an outsider, like Trump, but unlike Trump, she has a much larger potential upside. Also unlike Trump, who relies on flash and bravado, Fiorina has a clear grasp of the issues, as evidenced in her detailed responses to policy questions. Fiorina also has the ability to bring women into the GOP fold and provide a clear contrast to Hillary Clinton.

That said, Fiorina has a good shot at being the candidate to displace Trump as the outsider choice. However, the difference between her and Trump or Carson is that she could capitalize on the outsider impulse without drawing as much ire from the establishment wing.

In an election cycle with such a clear opportunity for an outsider to get the nomination, Carly Fiorina is making the right moves to be that outsider.

Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles in Action.