Even as everyone parses polls in Iowa and nationally trying to figure out if Donald Trump suffered any real damage from the attempted hit job Fox News aimed at him last Thursday, the one clear beneficiary from last week’s events appears to be Carly Fiorina. She’s basically running even with Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio in the only national GOP poll (from Rasmussen) taken since the debates, as is also the case in a new poll of Iowa from PPP. She’s not quite so strong in another new Iowa poll from Suffolk, but is running ahead of Bush, Huckabee and Paul there. Hell, Huck was campaigning in Iowa at a time when Carly was still counting her please-go-away money from HP and thinking about launching a losing Senate campaign. So her standing is pretty impressive.
It will be interesting to see if and when her standing compels her rivals or media to begin challenging her extremely thin qualifications to become president of the United States. Yes, the whole GOP needs her for gender diversity and for launching toxic attacks on Hillary Clinton into the atmosphere without too much gender backlash. But at some point, if you’re Jeb Bush with your two terms as Governor of Florida or Mike Huckabee with your two-plus terms as Governor of Arkansas or Rick Perry with your three-plus terms as Governor of Texas, you might get tired of looking up the leader board at Fiorina while pretending it’s non-germane that she blew up the company in her one CEO gig and lost her one political campaign by a near-landslide in the best Republican year since World War II. I mean, seriously, right now her main claim to fame was that she commissioned the Fred Davis “demon sheep” ad that helped sink an arguably more electable (and definitely more moderate) Senate primary rival in California.
Maybe none of this matters to Republicans looking for an “outsider” candidate who’s done more than her share of Power Point presentations and has a good personal story (including being a cancer survivor). But we’ll never know until the questions get asked.