A (Not-So-Brief) Rundown of the Best Show on TV

Following an evening of serious number crunching, tough algorithms, and even tougher decisions, the 2016 Presidential campaign report cards are finally in. Now that the dust has settled on last Monday’s historic and exciting presidential primary in New Hampshire, the candidates are gearing up for the next showdowns in South Carolina and Nevada. Some candidates are heading to the next challenge with newfound energy, while certain others are barely making it out alive, if at all. Before we move on, let’s have a fair and balanced look at how each candidate performed in the country’s second official round of voting, and where all of the campaigns thus far stand. Let’s start from the bottom.


The Ones We Left Behind:


Carly Fiorina:

Total votes in NH: 11,706 (4%)

(Photo by: Gage Skidmore, flickr.com)



New Hampshire marked the end of the road for Carly Fiorina’s ‘16 presidential bid. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO will perhaps be remembered best for her scathing and factually incorrect lambasting of Planned Parenthood in last September’s Republican debate, which some have claimed helped influence the tragic mass-shooting in Colorado Springs.


Still #TeamCarly? Here’s some good news. A Carly Fiorina autographed copy of Capital by Republican fiscal icon Karl Marx, signed at a Manhattan Barnes & Noble during a 2007 book tour for her memoir Tough Choices, is currently available on eBay. There are only six days left to bid. I am not kidding. Grade: F



Chris Christie:

Total votes in NH: 21,069 (7%)

(Photo by Ho_Hokus, flickr.com)


Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.46.01 PMI have to be charitable when evaluating Governor Christie, who officially dropped out of the race last Wednesday. The New Jersey governor’s campaign wasn’t a complete failure, as he may have managed to take Marco Rubio down with him in last week’s legendary debate. Christie’s aggressive criticism of the Florida senator’s robotic debate performance will go down as one of the most triumphant moments of the 2016 Presidential elections. Rock on, Christie. We will miss you. Grade: D


Vermin Supreme:

Total votes in NH: 259 (negligible %)

(Photo by: Jasper Colt, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.46.20 PM

A moment of silence for Vermin Supreme, the Democratic candidate,performance artist, and budding film auteur whose longtime advocacy for dental hygiene and free ponies managed to collect nearly 260votes in New Hampshire, good for fourth place in the Democratic primary behind Martin O’Malley. Supreme suspended his campaign this morning. Grade: D+


The Ones Who Still Remain:


Dr. Ben Carson:

Total votes in NH: 6,509 (2%)

(Photo by: Darryl Moran, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.46.40 PM

Though he received more than 5,000 fewer votes than Fiorina, who’s now out of the race, Dr. Ben Carson still gets the nod over the rest of the bottom feeder candidates, as his campaign is still technically still happening, I guess. The Carson loyalists weren’t swayed by the false Ted Cruz claim that the Doc was prematurely suspending his campaign in Iowa, most likely because (A) they hadn’t yet woken from the catatonic stupor that Carson induces when he speaks, or (B) their grandchildren had been too busy to come over and fix their Internet machines. Grade: F+


John Kasich

Total votes in NH: 44,909 (16%)

(Photo by: Tremco Going Green Every Day, flickr.com)Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.46.56 PM

He showed up in New Hampshire! Good for him. I really do kinda like this guy. That’s pretty much all that any of us have to say about Ohio Governor John Kasich, the diplomatic arbiter of sanity within the 2016 Republican presidential clown show. We kinda like this guy. He feels like that friendly manager at your local hardware store who gives you pretty good advice about which brand of mulch you should buy and always remembers your kids’ names. Grade: B-


Marco Rubio

Total votes in NH: 30,032 (11%)

(Photo by: IPRImages, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.47.11 PM

One thing I will give Marco Rubio is that he’s an expert public speaker, so lofty and charismatic that some of his Republican colleagues have insultingly labeled him as the “Republican Obama,” perhaps not realizing that 99 percent of the world would consider any intellectual comparison to a Constitutional law scholar from Harvard to be a compliment.


But confusing inter-Republican elbow jabs notwithstanding, Marco Rubio’s well-known public speaking ability is what made last week’s debate meltdown so unwittingly strange. For those who didn’t see it, the Florida senator repeated the same quote about Barack Obama (Let’s dispel once and for all with the fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he is doing, he knows exactly what he is doing!”) at least four times, more or less verbatim, even after Governor Christie criticized his speaking as political and robotic. This screw-up inspired a pretty hilarious group of Robot Rubio demonstrators to follow the senator all the way to South Carolina, and perhaps beyond.


What’s even more disturbing about this moment, though, is that it very much overshadowed his interview with ABC host George Stephanopoulos a day later, in which he insisted that pregnant rape victims must be legally obligated to give birth to their attackers’ babies. An articulate man with a perfect comb over hasn’t been this chilling since American Psycho. Grade: C+


Rafael Edward Cruz

Total votes in NH: 33,189 (12%)

(Photo by: Craig, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.47.27 PM

Senator Cruz’s biggest contribution to the Republican candidate field has been his ability to take on the impossible task of making Donald Trump appear less scary by contrast. Cruz has been quoted saying that gay marriage is a “real danger to our liberty.” He once tweeted that “Net Neutrality is just Obamacare for the Internet.” His stance on viciously carpet bombing cities full of innocent men, women, and children in the Middle East? “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”


In addition to these statements, the neckless extra-terrestrial has also been an outspoken opponent of Barack Obama’s (Constitutionally mandated) conspiracy to appoint a replacement Supreme Court justice in wake of Antonin Scalia’s recent death. Good luck with that, Ted. Oh, and while we’re at it, how about that birth certificate? Grade: C


Jeb(!) Bush

Total votes in NH: 31,310 (11%)

(Photo by: Gage Skidmore, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.47.44 PM

It remains to be seen whether or not Jeb(!), the establishment favorite, is going to be able to overcome the infamous legacy left by his brother between 2000-08. During that time, W turned the Clinton surplus into nearly five trillion dollars in the negative, ignored specific data that foreshadowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, started two wars on a credit card, and tanked the economy into what was nearly a 1930s sequel. In spite of W’s uber failings, Jeb(!) still has massive GOP donor money on his side. His campaign spent 44 million dollars in New Hampshire, and the coffers don’t seem to be running dry any time soon.


One of Jeb(!)’s biggest downfalls is his insistence on showing remnants of human empathy during the Republican debates whenever the conversation turns to immigration. Jeb (!) has made a nasty habit of implying that immigrants are people as opposed to some unknown breed of anthropomorphic mammal, almost always to raucous booing from the GOP audience. Clearly, he has forgotten his audience. Grade: B-


Hillary Clinton

Total votes in NH: 95,252 (38%)

(Photo by: Todd Turnbull, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.47.52 PM

What to say about Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid thus far? She’s run a more or less low-key, standard-issue campaign on the Democratic side, gathering modest campaign funds from private donors and super-PACs alike. Among these contributions is $166,000 thus far from Time Warner, owner of CNN, which may explain headlines like “Trump and Sanders using anger against big money to build their movements” after Bernie’s New Hampshire win, or “Bernie Sanders braces for a hard look from the press” after Bernie’s SNL appearance with Larry David, or “John Lewis: ‘I never saw’ Sanders at civil rights events(playing on the Clinton campaign’s assumption that it already has “the black vote” in the bag), or “Is Bernie Sanders Sexist?” in which the writer writes the actual sentence: “[The claim] is simultaneously absurd and 100% legitimate.”


Clinton is running the exact same campaign she ran against President Obama in 2008, one that ultimately failed, but the media landscape is much different this time around. Bernie Sanders, unlike Obama, is rejecting the donation money from massive media companies, which results in the headlines you see above, and many other false narratives that began popping up last summer right around the time establishment’s early dismissal of Bernie’s campaign proved incorrect.


It remains to be seen whether or not Clinton and the DNC will be able to overcome the massive grassroots support that Bernie Sanders has. So far, Clinton has not lived up to all the hype as a shoo-in Democratic nominee. Sanders tied her in Iowa, and then he cleaned her out in New Hampshire, two states in which the senator trailed by 30+ points respectively in 2015. She still has a slight lead in total delegates, so her campaign is not in a bad place right now. We’ll see if that remains true in the coming weeks. Grade: B


Donald Trump

Total votes in NH: 100,406 (34%)

(Photo by: Joeff Davis, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.47.59 PM

There isn’t much left to be said about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been said ten million times per day, except maybe for how strange and fascinating his political relationship is with Ted Cruz. Following the back-and-forth between Trump and Cruz has been an existential anomaly for me. I, like any patriot, hate them both. They are disgusting megalomaniacal posers who would sent America’s sons and daughters to war because it sounds cool.


But by some stretch of divine loathsomeness, Ted Cruz is just so awful that he is able to make Trump look slightly more human in comparison. He’s causing Trump to loosen up in some of his Fascist stances, and even in some cases defend liberal talking points on live TV. In Saturday’s debate in South Carolina, Trump insulted George W. Bush, he defended Planned Parenthood as doing “excellent things for women’s health,” and he even criticised the typical Republican stance on eminent domain.


What happened next was the crazy part: South Carolina Republicans cheered for him… which obviously begs the question: were those voters capable of recalling what it was they supported literally ten seconds before Trump opened his mouth? That, to me, is the mystery of the Donald Trump supporter. A good amount of them aren’t voting for any political platform (as in, they couldn’t sit down and give you a reasonable explanation of their stance on any issue outside of “Rosie O’Donnell is a bitch, probably” and “The brown-skinned ones are the scary people”). Trump voters are much more his fans than his political supporters. They are bored, disenfranchised, and pissed off about something, and they are along for whatever ride he’ll take them on. A-


Bernie Sanders

Total votes in NH: 151,584 (68%)

(Photo by: Phil Roder, flickr.com)

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.48.06 PM

As of mid-Feburary, Bernie Sanders is running the most universally successful campaign of any Presidential candidate. Once again, the Vermont Senator and outspoken Democratic Socialist has proven every narrative wrong. He won heavily across nearly every demographic category in New Hampshire. He’s broken nearly every fundraising record there is. He received more votes than Carson, Rubio, Bush, Cruz, and Kasich combined. He has successfully sidestepped every B.S. narrative that both Clinton and the mainstream media have thrown his way, from unelectable to unrealistic the most recent sexism fiasco, which (not surprisingly) backfired big time.


In January, 170 top economists came out in support of Bernie Sanders’ Wall Street reform policies, including Labor Secretary Robert Reich; University of Texas Professor James K. Galbraith; Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.; Brad Miller, former U.S. Congressman from North Carolina; and William K. Black, University of Missouri-Kansas City. The economists co-authored a letter that concluded with the sentiment, “The only way to contain Wall Street’s excesses is with reforms sufficiently bold and public they can’t be watered down. That’s why we support Senator Sanders’s plans for busting up the biggest banks and resurrecting a modernized version of Glass-Steagall.” Not a bad endorsement for a candidate who’s been labeled by the country’s largest media companies as an idealistic dreamer whose refusal to be corrupted could never possibly work in American politics. Grade: A



Aren Robinson LeBrun is a student journalist and award winning filmmaker in pursuit of semi-adulthood in New York City. An incurable sucker for politics and storytelling, he currently works as a full time editorial intern at Rolling Stone magazine in Manhattan. He’s produced several short films for Homicide Watch Boston that focus on inner city violence and social injustice. In his free time, Aren enjoys bitterly arguing with people about NBA basketball, writing short stories, watching Bruce Willis films, and drinking what amounts to probably too much black coffee. He dreams of one day tricking somebody into paying him for this. You can follow him on Twitter @arenlebrun_, against your better judgment.


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