Non-audioPolitics

Time to sell your Carly Fiorina stock

Despite the outsider shtick, Fiorina has been a political wannabe since 2008, with not much to show for it.

It feels almost random to get cranky about one particular irritant in the current campaign sand storm. But if this is a season of hot, dirty air, so be it.

I’m especially lathered about the witting, intentional myopia running rampant in the logorrhea of horserace commentary about the GOP horserace.

Case in point is Carly Fiorina and the breathless speculation about how her performance in the second debate has transformed her chances of becoming president – and maybe even transformed the future of America if not the cosmos.

This is goofy. One individual’s performance in a debate with 10 other hoofers, occurring four months before the first primary votes and the 14 months before the general election, has about as much predictive value as the grinds in my coffee cup.

It is like predicting the November 2016 stock price of, say, Hewlett-Packard based on how it performed yesterday.

Yes, the debate will have some immediate effect on her fundraising, volume of press coverage and social media presence, and meaningless poll numbers. Giving one night’s showing more weight than that is misleading, as every experienced reporter, political scientist, statistician and campaign consultant knows.

The Carly Moment is slightly more exaggerated than other Moments (the Cain Moment, the Bachmann Moment – yada, yada). That’s because Fiorina is seen as a newbie and an outsider, but one with a big-league resume.

What is ignored in this myopic moment is that she also has a big-league political record. Pundits don’t get so hot and bothered when a veteran – a Bush, a McCain, a Romney – has a good night or a bad night. That’s partly because there’s a record of how they performed in past elections.

And there that is with Fiorina, too. Despite the outsider shtick, Fiorina has pretty much been a professional political wannabe since she was ousted from HP.

In 2008, she tried to maneuver for the Republican VP slot about as blatantly as one can. Then in 2010, she ran for the Senate in the biggest state in the union, California. It is as good a warm-up for a presidential run as there is. She lost that race badly in a huge Republican year. The descriptor that always appears under her name on TV is “Former Hewlett Packard CEO.” Politically, that is less relevant than “Lost 2010 Ca. Senate Race.”

Her 2010 race against incumbent Barbara Boxer probably is a decent source of information for gaming out her prospects.

Fiorina won the 2010 primary against a weak, but not pathetic field. Her main opponent was a former congressman, Tom Campbell, who had failed in two earlier bids for the Senate.

She creamed him despite a doozy of a scoop from The Los Angeles Times before she even announced her campaign. Fiorina, they discovered, had not voted in three-quarters of the California elections she was eligible to vote in. She didn’t vote in the primary or general in 2002 and 2006 and didn’t vote in the 2000 and 2004 primaries. Oopsy.

In an op-ed piece in the Orange County Register, she justified her abstinence this way: “I felt disconnected from the decisions made in Washington and, to be honest, really didn’t think my vote mattered because I didn’t have a direct line of sight from my vote to a result.”

I wonder how many voters “have a direct line of sight from my vote to a result.”

According to Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times, Fiorina and her husband did make over $100,000 in political contributions around those years. Maybe that helped her set up a better line of sight to a result. (Although $100,000 is a pittance by CEO standards, to be fair.)

Fiorina’s biggest blooper in the Senate campaign looks especially ironic today. This great corporate uber-feminist was caught off-mike trash talking her opponent’s hair. “God what is that hair? So yesterday,” she said.

Despite spending $22 million on her campaign, including $5.5 million of her own money, this alleged poster child of corporate America was still outspent by one of the most liberal members of the Senate.

In the end, Boxer beat Fiorina by nearly a million votes, 52 per cent to 42 per cent. That was in a year when the GOP gained 5 Senate seats and 63 House seats.

“People don’t know her yet,” Senator Boxer said in an interview last week. “What they’ll understand pretty quickly is that she is the face of income inequality and Wall Street greed.”

That was how Boxer beat Fiorina five years ago. Republicans will use slightly different tactics in the primaries. But they also have a political record to attack, not just a corporate career.

If I were investing in a political futures market, I’d sell my Fiorina stock this week.

Loading Next Story