The first post-debate poll of Iowa Republicans was released last night. Candidates who hoped that voters would be impressed by their distinguished record of public service or their substantive accomplishments in elective office will be sorely disappointed.
From a deep and experienced field that includes 14 current or former state governors and senators, 41 percent of Iowans preferred one of the three political outsiders in the race: Donald Trump (19%); Dr. Ben Carson (12%) and Carly Fiorina (10%). The remaining 14 candidates split the remaining 59 percent, with Scott Walker (12%) and Jeb Bush (11%) breaking double-digits. To the extent that the debate produced any significant movement at all in the polls, it went to Ben Carson and to Carly Fiorina, who wasn’t even on the main event stage.
What these results point to is an assessment by Iowa voters that our nation’s problems can’t be fixed from within. Trump, Carson, and Fiorina are vastly different in background, experience and temperament, but they are united by one important characteristic: they have never held political office. Does that mean all the other candidates are doomed, because they have already been elected? Not at all — but it does mean that they will need to spend less time reciting their resumes and their records and more time showing voters that they understand their frustrations, that they share those frustrations, and that they have the will to overcome the forces that keep their priorities from ever seeming to win the day in Washington.
Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles in Action.