When the Republican National Committee released the 2016 primary debate schedule on July 6th, 2015, no one could have envisioned the second debate would headline real estate mogul Donald Trump and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Republican nominee front-runners. A September 9th-13th New York Times/CBS poll revealed Republican establishment candidates Jeb Bush (13% to 6%) and Scott Walker (10% to 2%) have fallen off sharply with potential voters since the first primary debate in August. With voters bucking traditional candidates, the buzz surrounding September 16th Republican primary debate promised an early showdown between non-establishment candidates Trump (24% to 27%) and Carson (6% to 23%). That showdown failed to materialize as Carson seemed sedated during his performance and Carly Fiorina (.5% to 4%) represented the non-establishment clash with Trump.
The Trump-centric debate (speaking more than any other candidate) led to CNN’s highest rating ever: 22.9 million viewers. But the three-hour marathon debate was terribly moderated by Jake Tapper as he tried to force clash between candidates rather than focusing on how candidates differed on policy stances. Did we really need twenty minutes on how all 11 candidates plan to defund Planned Parenthood? In an effort to streamline the differences between candidates, this website is creating political baseball cards outlining 20 different social and policy stances to differentiate candidates. The first two candidates featured are the Republican front-runners: Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Each of the political cards are inspired by famous/infamous baseball cards, which will be featured here as well.
The Donald Trump card is inspired by Bip Roberts’ famous 1996 Score No. 36 baseball card. There’s no real explanation as to why Roberts is wearing a sombrero with eye black, but he simultaneously looks amazing and ridiculous; a stylistic condition that appears perfectly suited for Mr. Trump’s candidacy. His 20 social, economic, domestic, and foreign policy positions below illustrates his adoption of conservative principles over recent years to appeal to Republican voters.
The Ben Carson political card is inspired by Michael Tucker’s Donruss 2003 Studio No. 42 isn’t generally on lists for the worst baseball cards of all-time, but you can imagine it made honorable mention somewhere.
Dr. Carson’s cool demeanor and Christian conservative values has made him a strong candidate in the eyes of evangelicals. His meteoric rise in the polls is reminiscent of Herman Cain in the 2012 election cycle as a non-establishment Christian conservative candidate preaching reason rather than hard partisan stances. His 20 political stances reveal a candidate with down-the-line Republican stances.
Whether Trump and Carson can survive as viable candidates after equally uneven performances during the second primary debate remains to be seen. Some are already calling the debate “the beginning of the end” for Donald Trump. But the 2016 election cycle already feels different than previous campaign seasons and with traditional candidates mired in missteps, expect Trump and Carson to be viable in Iowa.