Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

View Is Lousy for GOP Underdogs

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

View Is Lousy for GOP Underdogs

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - It's a lousy year to be an underdog in the Republican presidential race. A cluster of lesser-known candidates is vying to pop out of the pack and emulate Barack Obama, who on this date in 2007 trailed Hillary Clinton by nearly 22 percentage points - 44.4 percent to 22.6 percent in the RealClearPolitics.com average - and still went on to win his party's presidential nomination.

But that was very different. Mainly, there was no one between Obama and Clinton. By comparison, the also-rans in the GOP this year have a huge field ahead of them before they could even get to the top tier. The Republican field of 15 prominent candidates is the biggest in modern times, and real estate mogul/former television host Donald Trump has dominated media coverage.

That means not only is "support for others going to be quite splintered, but it's hard for any of the lesser candidates to get any attention, said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan analysis group.

The underdogs keep hope alive two ways: They take solace from polls showing seven of 10 Republican voters saying it's too soon to make a final decision. And there's a history of candidates who spent more time in New Hampshire diners than at Capitol Hill fundraisers and eventually emerged as contenders.

Here's the lineup of this year's top underdogs:

Fiorina

The hope: She got a poll bounce after a strong Sept. 16 debate showing, but it didn't last. Stay tuned, said campaign officials. "The horserace numbers are interesting for Washington reporters but not all that relevant at this point, said Sarah Isgur Flores, deputy campaign manager.

Outlook: Fiorina's in New Hampshire this week meeting voters and pitching herself as the tough-minded outsider best equipped to take on Democratic front-runner Clinton. She's been told she needs to show more warmth and still faces questions about why she was ousted as Hewlett-Packard's CEO in 2005.

Paul

The hope: A solid core of libertarian voters is behind him. …

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