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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Candidate Profile: #14. Carly Fiorina

For background to this series, click here.

Now let's get to that woman with no political experience that you've never heard of and is polling terribly but who still thinks for some reason she can win a national election. The 14th most likely nominee of the Republican Party is . . .

Carly Fiorina, 60, Former CEO of Hewlitt-Packard, 1999-2005

Campaign Website and Slogan--carlyforpresident.com-"New Possibilities. Real Leadership."

PPFA Slogan--"I'm the Woman!"

Ideology on liberal-conservative spectrum (-10 is far left and +10 is far right. A center moderate is 0.): +4.25. (Individual rights: +2; Domestic: +6; Economic: +5; Foreign policy: +4). She leans or is solidly conservative in all categories. However, she's extremely conservative in none of them, which can be said for only one of the other 16 Republican candidates. It's also worth noting she's never held elected office, thanks to a failed 2010 U.S. Senate run in California, so the calculation of her ideology is gleaned from what she says rather than a voting record.

Conservative Rank based on above: 12 of 16. That's what a lack of extremely conservative positions will do to you in this field. As for why she's not ranked lower, a few candidates are to the left of her in a couple categories.

Spin from the candidate's campaign--"Only in the United States of America can a young woman start as a secretary and work to become Chief Executive of one of the largest technology companies in the world." In 15 years she went from entry level work at AT&T to reaching its highest levels of management. Four years later, Hewlitt-Packard recognized her abilities and hired her to be its CEO, the first female CEO of any Fortune 50 business. For six years she was a titan of the private sector before leaving and turning her sights to politics. She brings business experience that nearly all the men in this massive field do not. She's an outsider who realizes career politicians are not going to change the problems in Washington. Someone with a new face who is a proven problem solver is required. This female, consistent conservative is the candidate Hillary Clinton and the liberals are terrified of.

Spin from opponents--"Only in the United States of America can a young woman start as a secretary and work to become Chief Executive of one of the largest technology companies in the world". . . and then become one of the worst CEOs in the country. When she left HP in 2005, it was a forced resignation from the board, which had seen its shares cut in half since she took over. Here, here, here, and here are major publications riffing on her place among the worst CEO or tech leaders of all time. After she resigned, HP stocks immediately rallied. Her only political attempt was a run at a California U.S. Senate seat in 2010, but it ended with a double-digit loss to Barbara Boxer. Can she really handle a national election against Hillary Clinton?

How do the polls look?--Her RCP national average is a paltry 2.0, good enough for 12th place in the field (above the undeclared John Kasich, the recently declared Bobby Jindal, the single-issue Lindsey Graham (#15), and, of course, Poor George Pataki (#16)). But she also announced her candidacy a month before any of those guys, so she's had a lot more time to consolidate that whopping single point advantage over them. She's polling at an average of 3 in Iowa (12th place) and looks to be a non-factor there. In New Hampshire, though, she's averaging a more respectable 4.6, good enough for eighth place. The reason for her stronger showing in New Hampshire, however, has less to do with her campaign skills and more to do with that fact that the more tailor-made Iowan candidates like Ted Cruz (averaging 4.2 in New Hampshire), Mike Huckabee (3.8), Rick Perry (2.0), and Rick Santorum (0.7) don't play too well in the northeast. It keeps her from the bottom of the pack but doesn't help her make a run at Bush, Walker, Rubio, Paul, and Christie.

PPFA analysis--There's a chance here that her gender affords her the unique capability of attacking Hillary Clinton without sounding demeaning or insensitive to women. A chance. The problem is that's not exactly something her campaign can broadcast; they're depending on Republican voters to draw that conclusion themselves. This development is unlikely, and therefore her greatest strength will probably never materialize. However, the strength she will trumpet--her outsider experience as a problem-solving CEO--will quickly evaporate in the debates, as there is a LOT of material for her opponents to hammer, which will ultimately marginalize her. I think she's the candidate most likely to drop out before Iowa.

PPFA nomination rank--14 of 16 (Odds: 40:1)

PPFA general election rank--11 of 16. Republicans nominating a woman could yield some unexpected results. Would women of almost all backgrounds still overwhelmingly vote Democratic? Of course her opponent will be female as well, so there's that. If Fiorina wins the nomination, how she did it will determine how well she'll do in the general, but I see her as having a Romneyish run, a description which I hope is clearly not a compliment. She could easily be portrayed as a wealthy CEO who laid off American workers and doesn't understand the language of the electorate.

Who will number 13 be?  See you Tuesday!

Number 15
Number 16

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