Amateur Hour Redux

Less that two weeks ago I noted in awe that according to the then-latest national poll of the GOP presidential contest, the three candidates with no prior public service (Trump, Carson and Fiorina) had a combined 42% of the vote.

Yesterday a poll of Iowa from Monmouth showed these same three candidates holding 56% of the vote. If you add in Ted Cruz, the freshman Senator who might as well be a non-office-holder since his Senate seat is no more than a platform for expressing his loathing for the place, these ultimate “outsiders” are at a combined 65%.

Remember back when one of the shrewder-sounding observations about this cycle was that governors and ex-governors would have an advantage, being free of Washington? In the Montmouth poll these folk (Walker, Bush, Kasich, Huckabee, Perry and Jindal) register a combined 21%, less than either Trump or Carson.

Is the amateur hour at its peak? That’s certainly the CW, and the devout hope of the Republican Establishment. But as I expressed on BHTV this week, the upcoming spectacle of bloviation and frustration by congressional Republicans could intensify the mood. That’s what veteran Iowa conservative activist Steve Deace (quoted by RCP’s Caitlin Huey-Burns) believes, too:

While the durability of outsider, anti-politician candidates may be in question, some activists believe interest in them will only intensify in September, when more people are paying attention and when Congress is back from recess, addressing the budget, Planned Parenthood defunding, and the Iran deal.

“If we think the voters are angry now, wait until this fall when [congressional leaders] sell out and surrender on every key battle there is,” says Deace, noting that will be Cruz’s time to shine. “It will strengthen the outsider candidates all the more.”

The logic’s pretty sound. And I wouldn’t be too sure that if one of the “outsiders” fades, his or her vote will drift back to a very distinguished senator or governor.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.