As the battle lines draw nearer between Trump and Clinton, what hope do the other candidates have?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are certainly frontrunners: but is the contest over yet?
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are certainly frontrunners: but is the contest over yet?

Since last Tuesday, it might have appeared that the race to become frontrunner for each US political party has been decided for good, and that whatever happens between now and the final primary on June 14th will not stop Trump and Clinton from making that ballot. Fear not; we have a long way to go before then, and a huge amount still to consider before the other candidates pack up.

As it currently stands in the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton is leading with 25% of the required delegates to become the nominee, whilst Bernie Sanders has only 10%. Despite the overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton, in the latest Democratic debate on Sunday night, polls suggested a unanimous victory to Bernie Sanders. It was the first time in the pair’s debating history that vicious disagreements began coming to light, as Sanders reminded us again of Hillary’s shady history of giving disclosed speeches to Wall Street for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, on Super Tuesday, Sanders managed to come away with victories in three out of the four toss-up states, so one can only assume that the Bern is continuing to sear through the American conscience, which may pay off in the forthcoming primaries.

Even in the instance that Hillary does come out on top, which undeniably seems likely at the moment, Sanders can safely exit the stage with his head held high, in the knowledge that he has inspired a new generation of young voters to confront the racist, divisive rhetoric that has arisen on the other extreme of the political spectrum.

The primary cultivator of this hateful rhetoric is Mr. Donald J. Trump: a man whose campaign has been fuelled by fear-mongering, through a pessimistic view of the world. The amusement of liberal voters to see their opponents’ decision to support a reality TV star for presidency has slowly become a mass-concern as his popularity has grown exponentially. Mockery has become plead; the laughter has become a slow gulp of despondency. The liberal media has tried with its every effort to derail the unstoppable force of the Trump campaign, including the TV host John Oliver, who, after famously avoiding talking about Trump on his show, thought the time had come to raise the subject after the first primaries showed that his popularity was in fact a reality. Oliver is remarkably well versed in the art of mockery, and this time was no exception.

The only problem with this sort of medium of public ridicule is that it is only watched by those who are the furthest from likely to vote for Trump anyway. Furthermore, Trump uses negative media publicity as a means to bolster his public image of being a thick-skinned victim of media abuse. In terms of positive coverage, let me phrase it this way: the last time you bought a drink on a night out, you paid more than Donald Trump paid for an entire year’s worth of positive media coverage on Fox News. On top of free media coverage, Trump has raised $27 million for his campaign, whilst his leading competitors, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have raised a whopping $104 million and $85 million respectively, so evidently it is not more money that is going to kick Trump out of the game.

Having started with seventeen candidates, the GOP race sees just four left on the final stretch. The aforementioned megalomaniacal media magnate currently holds primary victories in 12 out of 20 states, with Cruz on 6, and Rubio on 2. The fourth, relatively centrist candidate, John Kasich, can already consider himself an also-ran, and is, unfortunately, out of the equation. In terms of delegates, however, Trump and Cruz are relatively close, with 390 and 303 respectively. This is far from the 1,237 required to win the nomination, but the forthcoming winner-take-all primaries on March 15th in Florida, llinois and Missouri may make or break it for Cruz and Rubio. Unfortunately for them, Trump is leading the polls for all three.

The question at hand, however, should not be which of the three GOP candidates is likely to win, but how the Democratic nominee would fare against any of them in a head-to-head. Recent debates from both parties have demonstrated the stark contrast between the substance that the two parties are interested in discussing. Fortunately for the Democrats, having just two candidates in play has meant debates have been civilised, and both Hillary and Sanders have had the breathing space to flesh out their plans to raise the minimum wage, develop nationalised healthcare, and break up large banks. The situation is a little trickier for the Republicans, who were fighting for the chance to speak with at least six candidates on the stage until Jeb Bush announced his withdrawal last month. The candidates seem to descend constantly into total fist fights over childish disputes regarding personal matters. This led Ben Carson to say in a debate two weeks ago “Can somebody attack me please?” simply to have his voice heard at all. It is clear in my mind that painfully juvenile disputes and divisive rhetoric as heard so often from the Republicans will not serve them at all well against concrete arguments from the Democratic oppositionduring a General Election debate.

The way forward for the Democrats is not to attempt to sway voters’ political views but to attract the shocking 40% of the electorate that remain apathetic to the election, and choose not to vote. It is the indifference of voters that is precisely what needs to be tackled this time around through the marketing of politics as a solution, or threat, to everyone’s needs: “Can’t afford healthcare? Poor infrastructure in your area? Can’t get a job? Check out politics.”

Republicans are obviously also able to use this tactic to their advantage, and they certainly do. However, instead of asking voters what their real problems are, Republicans give them problems they didn’t know they even had: “There is a global threat of Islamic terrorism. There is a threat of illegal Hispanic immigration. You need to buy a gun to protect yourself from gun violence.” We can only hope that voters will be able to decide for themselves which problems they truly believe need fixing.

Another three months lie ahead before the final primary ballot box is collected on June 14th, so should Bernie call it quits? Have Cruz, Rubio or Kasich had their day? Perhaps only a miracle will save them, but for the sake of keeping the competition open, and in the hope of a last-minute photo-finish, I certainly hope not.

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