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2016 U.S. Presidential Election: Who will be Clinton's Rival?

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

11-05-2015 14:46 BJT

By Sun Chenghao, Assistant Research Fellow, Institute of American Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

After the first round of the Democratic Party primary debate and the third round of the Republican Party primary debate, concluding in October, the dynamics of the 2016 U.S. presidential election have changed.

 Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stands out among five candidates after the Democrat debate which included US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, former US Senator Jim Webb of Virginia and US Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

Clinton consolidated her leading role and likely to win the Democrat nomination.

Clinton faces no serious competition in her party. Even before the debate, Clinton's poll numbers were stable. During the debate, Clinton expressed confidence with eloquence due to her experience debating President Barack Obama a dozen times eight years ago.

She spoke about foreign affairs, women's rights and Wall Street. Clinton did not go too left, which might help her solicit support from independent voters. Some U.S. media outlets believed Hillary had won the debate.

Placing second for the Democrat nomination, Sanders stands at 33%, according to a IBD/TIPP poll from August 15 to 18, still 15 points less than Clinton's 48%. Sanders told people "who is he" during the debate, and sought to expand his core supporters.

As a democratic socialist, he symbolizes the U.S. awakening on issues of income inequality. But Sanders did not emphasize details about his policies besides touting slogans. It's difficult for him to catch up with Clinton. Meanwhile other Democrat candidates lag far behind the front-runner.

Vice President Joe Biden will not campaign for the White House, while Hillary boosted her support with Democrats after undergoing a nearly 11-hour round of questioning from a Congressional hearing on the Benghazi attacks. If her email scandal loses traction, her prospects would be rosier than before.

Yet, who will be Clinton's rival from the Republican Party? The situation is more complicated. According to the IBD/TIPP poll from October 24-29, Donald Trump stands at 28% while Ben Carson 23% and Marco Rubio 11%.

However, a CBS News/New York Times survey released last week found that support for Carson has quadrupled since August with 26% of Republican primary voters saying they would back him as the GOP nominee, surpassing Trump's 22%. Other candidates still linger below 10% .

It might be a difficult moment for Trump. Carson's overtaking is merely a start. Trump is a non-traditional politician, who opposes political correctness. The unexpected "Trump phenomenon" is based on U.S. popular contempt for political hypocrisy instead of his policies or capabilities to govern.

Moreover, Trump's lowering poll standings in Iowa could have constrained him during the third debate. The next question is how to defend a tottering lead and whether he could remain the center of the limelight.

During the debate, he got less speaking time than US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon.

The focus is on the competition between Trump and Carson, two non-traditional candidates. Established candidates have no effective ways to shake Trump's leading status. Instead, they must concentrate on attacking each other, such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Rubio have done.

Bush, cutting his campaign expenses and staff, aroused doubts whether he could win the nomination. Rubio is figuring out why his strong debate performances failed to translate into new support.

Republicans are far more divided than Democrats. People are still waiting for a leader to emerge in the GOP camp to pose a real threat to Clinton's ambitions.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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