Who would have ever thought that Donald Trump would be the leading candidate in the 2016 Republican primaries? His meteoric rise in the race for the Republican nomination epitomises the GOP’s main problem; they are too extreme. Whereas the Democrats’ five candidates are fairly balanced, with Bernie Sanders the only arguably radical candidate, every single one of the sixteen Republican candidates are what I would consider to be extreme. All are pro-life and pro-gun, two key Republican ideals that are just not synchronised with the general American public. This year a Gallup poll found that 50% of voters were pro-choice and 44% pro-life, the first time since 2008 that a majority of Americans have taken the pro-choice position. Furthermore, a 2015 poll conducted by the John Hopkins Centre for Gun Policy and Research and Research at the Bloomberg School of Public Health found that 85% of gun-owners and 83% non-owners favoured stricter gun laws. These polls suggest that the electorate is more aligned with the Democrats on these two huge election issues than the Republicans.
If the Republicans want to win this election they need a candidate who appeals to the centre-ground. Mitt Romney provided this role in the 2012 election, but even he was too conservative for the American public. The Republicans need someone who embodies the party’s ideals but is also fairly moderate. I would propose a candidate like Illinois senator Mark Kirk who is pro-choice, pro-gun control and voted to repeal the Defence of Marriage Act. NBC Chicago even acknowledges him as the most liberal Republican, for his representation of a liberal state like Illinois, which is conservative in the more rural areas but a liberal bastion in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. If a Republican like Kirk ran than perhaps the Republicans would provide a sensible alternative to the Democrats. However, unfortunately Kirk suffered a stroke in 2012, meaning the gruelling campaign trail may take its toll. There are other moderate candidates, mainly any members of the political action committee Republicans for Choice, who all share similar views with fellow member Senator Kirk.
Unfortunately they seem to be aiming for defeat, with Donald Trump leading the polls by an average of 12%. A lot of people saw Trump as the “joke candidate” in many ways at the start but it seems we need to take him more seriously as it is becoming more likely he will win the nomination. Using British politics as a comparison, Jeremy Corbyn was seen as the least-likely candidate for the next Labour leader at the beginning of the leadership election but he won a 59% majority and now is the Leader of the Opposition. Although Trump is completely different to Corbyn ideologically, one would be naive to dismiss the minor similarities between the two; however, it seems comparing Democrat Bernie Sanders to Jeremy Corbyn would be more ideologically apt, but I digress.
In order to see a Republican president in the White House the party needs to find a new candidate. Somebody who is touch with Americans on the key issues. Not a warmonger like Lindsey Graham or a gun nut like Ted Cruz, but somebody who can really challenge the Democrats. The Rockefeller Republicans need to make a comeback this election or in the eleventh hour Mitt Romney needs to step in with a more centrist platform and save his party from certain defeat.