Six Months Till Iowa and the Political Parties Are Worlds Apart

*Originally published on RYOT.org on August 4th, 2015 by Sean Sawyer*

The Republican primary is turning into a cluster of candidates bidding for the Republican nomination while the Democratic race is essentially in a two-person race.

Fox News will be hosting the first official Republican debate on Thursday night. Fox is inviting the top 10 candidates based on an average of the 5 most recent political polls, but who is in the top 10 is still a mystery just days before the debate. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee are shoo-ins for the debate as they consistently poll at the top of the Republican field. But that is only 5 candidates, the next 5 are a mystery because of the variability in the polls.

The most recent poll came from Monmouth University and yielded a 4.2% margin of error. The variability is giving Fox a headache as to who to invite to their debate. For example, Carly Fiorina polled in 11thplace in this poll, but, taking the margin of error in the poll, hypothetically Fiorina could actually have been polled 6th.

When Republicans were polled in the same survey, it found that almost half of those polled (45%) feel there should be two debates back-to-back between the 17 declared nominees where they are randomly assigned. 29% feel that the debate should invite all 17 nominees to one giant debate. “I suppose Fox hoped that a top tier would emerge by the time the first debate rolled around. But based on current polling, there’s no good rationale for arbitrarily selecting a top ten,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

Having said this, Fox News just announced that they will keep their original format for Thursday’s debate. Headlining the debate will be real estate mogul Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. This debate will be broadcasted at 8 pm ET. Prior to the debate, will be another GOP debate which will feature the other 7 candidates.

The Democratic party has a total of 5 declared candidates, but the race has effectively turned into a two-person race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The Democratic Party’s most recent poll shows that Clinton still has a comfortable lead polling at 55.6% ahead of second place Sanders polling at 21%. Then, there is a major drop off. Of the declared candidates, Webb is in third but only has 2.2% of Democratic support.

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Clinton, left, and Sanders, right, have pulled ahead in the polls and are now essentially running a two-man race. (Photo left: AP. Photo right: Charlie Riedel/AP)

However, Joe Biden is the dark horse in this race. While he has neither confirmed nor denied a run President, Biden is seeing some support. According to the Associated Press, Biden’s supporters are willing to open a PAC for him in hopes of pushing him towards a nomination. The 72-year-old Vice President hasran two unsuccessful attempts seeking the Democratic bid in 1988 and 2008. He has polled at 13.7% putting him in third place in the Democratic race, despite not declaring.

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Joe Biden campaigning in 1988. He was forced to withdraw from that election due to plagiarism. (Photo: AP)

Despite what the polls are reporting, Sanders believes that he could win the Democratic nomination because of the strong grassroots movement his followers are establishing. Sanders consistently has the largest rallies of all candidates and is only accepting money via small donations and has raised over $15 million through that means, according to The New York Times. If Sanders does win the Democratic bid, he has high hopes at the White House. “We’re electable … we can win this thing,” he said. “One-on-one against the Republican candidates, we can win.”

The two primary races are turning out to be very entertaining. The Democratic candidates pin a man supported by the people versus Clinton who has ties with big donors, and potentially both could face our incumbent Vice President.

Meanwhile, the Republican field is completely wide open. So wide open that Fox is struggling to come to a list of 10 candidates to invite to their first debate on Thursday. Both races are shaping out to be as entertaining as they are important to the future of our country.

And we are still half a year away from the Iowa Caucus.

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