It’s a week until the next Republican debate, and some political journalists are wondering whatever happened to Carly Fiorina.
By “whatever happened to Carly Fiorina” they mean “whatever happened to her poll numbers.” Her numbers – and her candidacy – surged after both debates, where her fiery denouncement of Planned Parenthood and her throttling of Donald Trump won her admirers, but they have since dipped. NBC and Fox News each has her down four points in the last month, while CNN’s polling has her support collapsing with an 11-point drop. All of which indicates that, by popular support, she’s dead in the water.
Part of that is because she just hasn’t been able to get the media to cover her, or as David A. Graham writes in The Atlantic, “She doesn’t seem to be as good at collecting ‘earned media’” – which is to say, getting the press covering her for something or other – as the other outsider candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, because they are both adept at saying ridiculous things, guaranteed to cause outrage. Fiorina has had her share of outrageous statements herself, but they’re limited to falsehoods about her time at Hewlett-Packard and the videos on Planned Parenthood, as opposed to comments that are overtly racist, sexist or denialist.
So what has Fiorina been up to in the month since her strong showing at the last GOP matchup?
She’s still fighting the good fight: campaigning. And she certainly has gotten news coverage: for her ethically questionable Super PAC and her 22 year-old “body woman,” for calling out Trump and Carson for “whining” about debate lengths, and for cashing in on Back to the Future Day hype by buying a related domain, and using it to promote attack ads.
But because it’s not blanket-to-blanket coverage, à la Carson or Trump for days on end, those who aren’t newshounds or political junkies can easily assume that’s she not as worthy a candidate to support or, if the media has lost interest, forget about her as well.
Then again, we’re only talking about the frontrunners, not everybody else, who also seem to get middling media coverage.
It’s also, of course, entirely possible that potential voters were turned off by her disastrous performance at HP.
We’ll just have to wait until the next Republican debate to see if her poll numbers jump – and then if it matters.
Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina smiles as she is introduced at a house party at the home of former State Senator Bob Clegg in Hudson, New Hampshire, October 3, 2015. (REUTERS/Mary Schwalm)