Carson's Lack of Substance Highlights Outsider Advantage

Nov 11, 2015

In a night full of sound bites, one candidate's lack of substance may have helped him stand out in a crowded field of candidates. Ben Carson, one of the 'outsider' candidates, didn't go into much policy in the third Republican debate.  Donna Hoffman, associate professor of political science at University of Northern Iowa, says that didn't hurt him.

"He has this huge likability factor but he's not being very specific in terms of policy, and so far that's working for him."

That's viable for Carson now, but Hoffman's unsure of its endurance as a long-term strategy.

"At the end of the day, you do have to have some substance. If you look at history, the Republican party and the Democratic party in addition, they typically do not nominate people to be their standard bearers who have no experience in government, in politics."

Hoffman concedes there may be something different about this particular election cycle.

"The reason Trump and Carson, and even Fiorina, have done as well as they have done in this cycle is that there is this overall feeling that government is broken and that government is the problem and politicians are the problem, so therefore we ought to elect someone who's not a politician. But there is a level of credibility that has to be met by the standard bearer for the Republican party."

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Hoffman and with Steffen Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, about the third Republican presidential debate.