US Election Update: The Wild Bunch

(Editor – With Britain reeling from the general election, we look again at the creeping tide that is American electioneering.)

In part two of my attempted coverage of the United States Presidential Race I will once again introduce another new set of candidates who have recently announced their official candidacy.

Bernie Sanders (Democrat)

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004

At last the Democrat nomination process is more than just a glorified tour for Hilary Clinton with the entrance of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. With the likes of Ted Cruz representing the more ideological right of the Republican Party Sanders is the equivalent for the Democrats, a self-described ‘Democratic Socialist’, Sanders’ chief support is held in the far left of the Democrat Party. His base is, unsurprisingly, small and made up of white college town people. Sanders cannot hope to raise the sort of money that Clinton will be able to, nor have the networks she has open to her, but by raising concerns over her ties to financial institutions and her own stance on social issues Sanders could make a mark beyond this election year where the Democrat race feels almost over before it has begun. To even come close to Clinton in the race itself Sanders would need to show the centre of his party that he is a valid candidate and that he could attract other ethnic groups, particularly African-Americans, to vote for him. Iowa and New Hampshire would be a start but if he does not make a breakthrough in states like South Carolina he will barely register a scratch electorally speaking on Clinton.


Ben Carson (Republican)

Ben Carson

If we consider the candidates such as Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders as outsiders within the moderate centre of their own parties then Ben Carson is a true outsider to the Republican Party. He is a former neurosurgeon and has held no public office or been part of the Republican Party in anyway outside of a supposed strong grassroots support. Carson fits the mould of an anti-establishment figure and as a former neurosurgeon his critique of the healthcare system might well be an attractive issue for voters in the Primary. His race might give him the chance of joining the other candidates in Iowa, if he gets that far, to showcase diversity once again in a Party struggling to reconnect with America. However the big issue will be if Carson even gets to Iowa to compete with the more established figures, he is well known for making inappropriate comments and in the election period these can make or break a candidate at a speed that policy detail could only hope to achieve. Once again it is worth stressing that he is truly the outsider and he may well generate media buzz now but all eyes will be on him to see if he can last the distance.


Carly Fiorina (Republican)


The second ‘outsider’ of this batch of hopeful Republican candidates is Carly Fiorina who, like Carson, has had no involvement with the Republican Party as either a Senator, member of the House or state governor but has at least been more involved at a broader level than the hopeful former neurosurgeon. She was part of John McCain’s team in 2008 and her business background will hopefully tempt the voters towards her. Like Carson explicit detail in policy is not apparent yet and she appears to not have a specific base of voters that would automatically flock to her. Her gender will certainly be part of her campaign but there may be too many so called ‘outsider’ candidates with greater resumes surrounding Fiorina for her to be successful early on in the states such as New Hampshire. Her private-sector life will stand out from the crowd but a lack of a coherent message coupled with conflicting social views will mean that like Carson she may struggle on the long winding road of the Republican Primaries.


Mike Huckabee (Republican)


The final candidate this time around is the former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. A familiar face to those who watched his show on Fox Huckabee holds distinct advantages over several current candidates in the Primary race. He has historically done very well early in the race as was seen by his victory in the Iowa Caucus in 2008 and from that he has a solid base that he will be hoping once again will fall behind him. This base is the evangelical Christian group that Huckabee will be hoping to court once more. There are however signs that Huckabee is looking to quickly extend his support to blue-collar Americans and more generally the elderly as he has made clear his support for Medicare and Social Security. A firm religious background and strong socially conservative principles give him an instant identity and he will challenge hard in the Southern states especially but will he be able to make a dent in more secular states that he will face early on in the campaign?

Duncan Bradshaw-Smith

Domestic US and North America


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