Carly Fiorina made a strong impression during the second GOP debate on Wednesday. Her performance has pushed her all the way into second place, according to a CNN/ORC poll released on Sunday. Fiorina jumped a full 12 percent and is now polling at 15 percent. Although Fiorina's jump in popularity is definitely coming at a faster rate, her campaign is eerily similar to that of the last female Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, who ran during the 2012 election. So, how do Carly Fiorina and Michele Bachmann compare?
According to a direct comparison from research website InsideGov, politically the two differ only slightly. Bachmann is more conservative than Fiorina, which is what ultimately helped her during the 2012 election when the hyper-conservative Tea Party — a grassroots organization that she had direct involvement with — held a stronger influence.
The two both opposed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as the stimulus bill. Bachmann actually had the chance to give a "nay" vote given her elected position. Fiorina only talked about her desire to do so while running against California Senate incumbent Barbara Boxer in 2010. When it comes to key issues like immigration and gun ownership, both advocate against pathways to citizenship and for gun owner rights.
There is a key difference between the two candidates. Unlike Fiorina, whose only political experience was that aforementioned failed 2010 California Senate run, Bachmann just finished serving in office as a representative for the state of Minnesota. She had been in office for eight years and had previously served in the Senate. It appears that having little to no political experience is what GOP voters are looking for in 2016, though. The top three candidates in the latest CNN/ORC poll have never served in political office before. Fiorina used that to her advantage during the second Republican debate on Wednesday. One of her strongest quotes from the debate came from a question about her outsider status:
I'll tell you why people are supporting outsiders. It's because you know what happens if someone's been in the system their whole life, they don't know how broken the system is. ... These things have gone on for so long because no one will challenge the status quo. You know what a leader does? They challenge the status quo, they solve problems that have festered for a long time and they produce results. That is what my whole life has been about.
Bachmann made her biggest mark leading up to the 2011 GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, where she saw her some of her highest poll numbers. In fact, the former Minnesota representative won the Iowa straw poll with 29 percent prior to the August debate. It was the pinnacle of her campaign. The victory came two months after what The Washington Post deemed a surprise victory during a July 2011 Republican debate. She came out swinging immediately, attacking Obama's first term and predicting he wouldn't last any longer:
This election will be about economics. It will be about how will we create jobs, how will we turn the economy around, how will we have a pro-growth economy. ... We need the peace through strength of Republicans, we need the fiscal conservatives, we need the social conservatives. We need everybody to come together because we're going to win. Just make no mistake about it.
Bachmann and Fiorina are also completely opposite when it comes to the hiring of women and minorities. Fiorina advocates for diversity while Bachmann doesn't make it a priority in the least. Bachmann clearly took a stronger stance on economics, given her quotes from the debate as well as her voting record.
Like Bachmann, Fiorina's pre-debate victory in August took many by surprise as well. The strong showing on a national stage set the course for the former HP CEO to make it into the second primetime debate. The next GOP debate is scheduled for Oct. 28, at the University of Colorado in Boulder. It's unclear whether Fiorina will experience the same pitfalls as Bachmann, who was criticized for making many factual errors and other gaffes, or if she can make it any farther.
Fiorina most certainly won't be getting any help from Bachmann, however. Bachmann has criticized the candidate's alleged soft stance on Muslims, a surprisingly important issue during this year's election.
Bachmann suspended her campaign following the 2012 Iowa caucus in which she placed sixth. For the 2016 election, Republicans still have over four months until the Iowa caucus; that's plenty of time for Fiorina's campaign to continue picking up speed.