- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Following GOP presidential polls is like following the stock market; candidate stock goes up and down, and woe to the White House hopeful who dwells on their negative numbers. Even-tempered Ben Carson is now surging in the Republican ratings, and is No. 1 in three polls, to the annoyance of his more outspoken rival Donald Trump. The pair have opposing campaign styles; some now suggest the billionaire’s aggressive posture could be wearing thin with voters.

“Attacks cost favorability for both the attacked and the attacker. It’s like an intentional foul in a football game. It’s only worth the penalty if it keeps the other team from scoring and keeps you in the game,” observes Fox News analyst Chris Stirewalt.

“Carson’s opponents have mostly avoided attacking him, except, of course, Trump, a move which has plainly backfired. Attacking Carson, a kindly, Christian man with an inspiring life story, is hard to do,” Mr. Stirewalt says. “And Carson goes to great pains to avoid saying unkind things about his rivals. Like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Carson looks for ways to praise rather than blame his fellow Republicans. And voters reward them. The lesson: If you want to fight your intra-party foes, do it on substance not character.”

A TELLING CARSON VICTORY

Ben Carson is now “virtually tied” with Donald Trump among Republican hopefuls — and now tops Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, 50 percent to 40 percent respectively, in the final face-off, this according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, exactly one year before election day dawns.

“Is there a doctor in the house? There certainly is — and at the moment Ben Carson is delivering a troubling diagnosis to Hillary Clinton,” says Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac survey. “Carson has surgically cut away all but one GOP opponent and taken a scalpel to Hillary Clinton’s lead.”


SEE ALSO: Republican candidates change but callous platform stays the same, Obama says


But wait, there’s more. The former secretary of state “gets crushed on character issues, pounded by Carson and closely challenged by Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio,” Mr. Malloy adds.

TRUMP’S FOUR SECONDS

The aforementioned Donald Trump hosts NBC’s Saturday Night Live on Saturday, despite protests and four petitions bearing 460,000 signatures from Latino activists who oppose the appearance. NBC has already produced a promotional video for the big occasion however; Mr. Trump makes a cameo appearance wearing his signature blue blazer, crisp white shirt and red power tie.

But as an candidate, he can only speak for four seconds in accordance with FCC regulations which would require “equal time” for his rivals if he exceeded the limit. How did Mr. Trump use his four seconds in the one-minute spot?

“Let me just say this. Ben Carson is a complete and total loser,” Mr. Trump quickly declares.

NASA: HELP WANTED

Amazingly enough, NASA will soon be hiring astronauts again, what with space flights to Mars on the far horizon, and a push to return human spaceflight launches to American soil. The federal space agency notes there are more human spacecraft in development in the U.S. “than at any other time in history,” and will begin accepting applications on Dec. 14. And the rides here?

The next class of astronauts may fly aboard the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle. NASA seeks pilots, engineers, scientists, medical doctors. No call for journalists at the moment, though.

“This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” says an optimistic Charles Bolden, NASA administrator.

The age of astronaut hires have ranged all the way up to 46; the average age is 34. But now that 70 is supposed to be the new 50, geezers could have a chance. Well, maybe. U.S. citizenship is a must and military and civilian applicants are welcome. Salaries for civilian candidates are based upon the federal pay scale for grades GS-11 through GS-14. “Currently a GS-11 starts at $66,026 per year and a GS-14 can earn up to $144,566 per year,” NASA states in an advisory. The journey begins here: Astronauts.NASA.gov

GOP PREDICTION: 322 ELECTORAL VOTES

“No nominee wins the White House without the help and support of voters in the states. As it stands right now, Republicans control a supermajority of legislative chamber majorities and a majority of statewide offices from governor to lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Republicans hold the governor and full legislature in 24 states — compared to Democrats’ seven — and hold majorities in 23 chambers in states President Obama carried twice. This includes both chambers in traditional battlegrounds such as Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin,” says Republican State Leadership Committee political director Justin Richards.

“The path laid out by Republicans at the state level should serve as a blueprint to the eventual Republican nominee. These states added to the states won by Mitt Romney in 2012 give Republicans at least 322 electoral votes. By speaking to and offering solutions to the issues that matter most to voters and continuing to support state-level elected representatives who better reflect all diverse communities, the Republican Party will be better for it and will begin charting a new path back to the White House — through the states,” Mr. Richards observes.

POLL DU JOUR

71 percent of Americans say they have had a flu shot at some time or another in the past.

64 percent say flu shots are “effective”, 25 percent say the shots are not effective.

45 percent do not plan to get a flu shot this year; 47 percent of this group say the shot is not effective.

31 percent have already had their flu shot.

14 percent plan to get a flu shot in the future.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 31- Nov. 2.

Antonyms and onomatopoeias to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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