A new CNN poll is fascinating for what it reveals—-and doesn’t. No surprise that Hillary Clinton is favored by a whopping 65 percent of Democrats with Joe Biden way back at 10. Expectedly too, Republicans are in a gaggle with Chris Christie (17), Paul Ryan (16), Rand Paul (13), Jeb Bush (10) and Marco Rubio (9).
At this point, name recognition counts heavily, but just below those current leaders is a provocative pair: Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz, each at 7 percent.
Two senators who have occupied their seats for only months are poised to move up as more Americans find out who they are and what they stand for—-the most clear-cut (some would say extreme) positions on the role of government, an issue that has been dominating—-and paralyzing-- Washington politics.
Even as prospects for Democrats retaking the House next year remain slim, the ascension of Cruz and Warren may sharpen serious debate about what voters two years later, their heads cleared of Obama’s race as a distraction, want from government.
With professorial backgrounds, both could elevate the discussion above the Michele Bachman-Rick Perry duh level and offer some real bite to the overarching arguments.
Fascinating too is the prospect of the pair bringing true demographic diversity to their parties’ national tickets (after all, the 2012 race still featured three and a half white men).
Conceivably, the Democratic ticket could consist of two women with the GOP fielding a pair of Latinos. Mix or match as they may, the parties may be forced to stop searching for compromise candidates and field choices that voters can understand, think about and among whom they can express their clear preference.
In 2016, the middle of the road may be the most dangerous place for an ambitious national politician to be.