Can you like a guy whose mouth doesn't turn up when he smiles? (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Last night Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated for the seventh time, in Flint, Michigan. They showed how different they are from each other--and from the Republicans, too, who have turned their debates into childish namecalling sessions with boasting about dick size. Literally.
Meanwhile, primary voting is in full swing. Here are the delegate totals so far:
Trump - 384
Cruz - 300
Rubio - 151
Kasich - 37
(You need 1237 delegates to win the Republican nomination.)
Clinton - 1130
Sanders - 499
(You need 2383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.)
Several more states are voting in March, including states with with a lot of delegates and symbolic importance, like Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida. Through the end of March, 1312 Democratic and 652 Republican delegates are up for grabs.
We have 4 Republicans still in the race, and two Democrats. And each one has a major, possibly fatal flaw.
Trump - blowhard
Donald Trump, blowhard. (mikehogan2/Flickr)
Trump fans say they like that he speaks his mind and "tells it like it is." But he also blusters and boasts--scapegoats and discriminates against Muslims, Mexicans, women, and undocumented immigrants--so he's been painted as a demagogue and a fascist and a crude bully.
His authoritarian, take-no-prisoners style attracts voters, but it also seriously repels them.
This is a problem for Trump because in state after state, voters who are making up their minds at the last minute aren't voting for him. (In early states they were voting for Rubio. Now they're going Cruz.) That helped him lose Kansas and Maine to Cruz over the weekend, when Republicans in 4 states plus Puerto Rico voted. Only 84 delegates separate Trump and Cruz right now. It's pretty clear Trump's style isn't winning him many new fans.
Cruz - unlikeable
It sounds harsh, but Cruz is personally disliked by almost everybody, including his own Republican colleagues in the Senate, and his college roommate.
No. Ted has no empathy and desires to control people. He's a bad person, and I choose to spend my kindness on others https://t.co/FbA2umCWpA
— Craig Mazin (@clmazin) February 26, 2016
A lot of people just find him creepy, loathsome, and insincere.
But beyond that, a lot of people in both parties think Cruz is dishonest and sneaky. And too many people are enjoying buying into the theory that Ted Cruz is the infamous Zodiac killer. Really. If you're seen as a creepy liar, it's hard to get people to like you, and if you can't get people to like you, how can you get them to vote for you? Will most of the country vote for someone they can't like?
Rubio - lightweight
Can Rubio take the heat? (Giphy)
Rubio likes to talk about how he represents the future and that it's time to look forward instead of to political veterans and party elders. (His campaign theme is "a new American century.") Rubio and Cruz are the same age, but somehow Rubio comes off younger and greener.
Frank Luntz focus group on Rubio: he won, but still "boyish," "student council president," "orator," "young looking"
— John Durant (@johndurant) February 26, 2016
He's often described as young, boyish, and inexperienced, adjectives that don't scream presidential. More recently, Trump has taken to calling Rubio a lightweight, and the label is sticking.
Kasich - boring
John Kasich, being exciting. (Giphy)
Months into the campaign, after 11 Republican debates, Ohio Governor John Kasich is still unknown and unclear to so many people. Why? He just doesn't make a strong enough impression. He tries to portray himself as reasonable, practical, and mature, but he can come off just ... boring. And that's a big thing that keeps him from being better known.
Clinton - inconsistent
Who is the true Hillary Clinton? (Giphy)
Glance at the Twitter hashtag #WhichHillary to see people accusing Clinton of changing her positions when it seems like it would help her politically.
Even a lot of Democrats who like that she's very experienced and qualified also think she's dishonest and untrustworthy. Yikes. Republicans go further and deem her a serial liar, perhaps even to a criminal level.
This image keeps many Democrats from supporting Hillary.
I have no problem with Hillary being a moderate Democrat. My problem is that she lies constantly about her views based on what's popular.
— abel. (@FeeIThaBern) March 6, 2016
Sanders - unrealistic
He's a democratic socialist calling for a sustained political revolution. His tax plan would raise taxes 34%. He has big goals, like replacing Obamacare with a single-payer health care system and dismantling the big banks. But his plans for how to actually achieve these goals can sound thin.
How realistic is Bernie Sanders about which of his plans he could actually accomplish? Some Democrats call him a dreamer with unrealistic goals.
I love Bernie sanders and his head is really in the right place with a lot of what he wants to do but it's just so unrealistic
— Single Mother (@IllestCypher) March 4, 2016
And some Republicans are harsher, dismissing him as a cranky, crazy old socialist.
The thing is, a lot of people are sick of these characterizations.
Still, they do stick, for a reason, and they could make a difference in the primaries and caucuses still to come before the nominations are set.
This article was written by Holly Epstein Ojalvo and originally appeared on Kicker. Kicker explains the most important, compelling things going on in the world and empowers you to get in the know, make up your own mind, and take action. For more, check out the Kicker site, like their Facebook page, or subscribe to their email newsletter.