Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

It’s been a long summer of talk about the presidential primary on the Republican side with 17 contenders vying for the party’s nomination. The talking heads on network television have had a lot of material to work with from GOP contenders. The race on the Democratic side is also getting interesting with Hillary’s slide in key early primary states and the waffling of Vice President Joe Biden on his candidacy. The rise of socialist Bernie Sanders on the Dem side should be enough to scare any good Republican into volunteering for any one of the GOP candidates.

Polls have traditionally been a good way to monitor trends; however, they have some drawbacks: they’re short-lived and statistically flawed. I think with all the challenges many businesses have had with the advent of technology, pollsters are trending the way newspapers have – fighting to stay relevant in the new normal. The general public is uninformed and apathetic. How to you get a sampling from that pool? Not to mention the presidential election is still more than 14 months away!

So let’s take Donald Trump, for example. The polling is feeding the media frenzy and keeping his campaign alive. And not just alive: Thriving. I read this recently from Rasmussen Reports: “This week, Donald Trump made headlines with a political rally in a football stadium and his televised confrontation with Univision activist/commentator Jorge Ramos. Rasmussen Reports’ latest Trump Change survey shows belief that Trump will be the next Republican presidential nominee inching up among both GOP voters and voters in general. A new national telephone survey finds that 59% of Likely Republican Voters now believe Trump is likely to be their party’s nominee for president in 2016, up barely from 57% a week ago.  But the latest finding includes 29% who say a Trump nomination is Very Likely, a view shared last week by just 25%.”

What is this fascination with Donald Trump? What is it with the non-traditional, non-political candidates? Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are trending quite well, too. In fact, Carson is second to Trump in many polls in early primary states. Do these candidates have the staying power to make it to the primary in Cleveland in July? This is going to be an interesting year in politics and I’m glad I’ve got a good seat to watch this process unfold.

Some of my Republican friends are upset with Trump. Some are equally turned off by another Bush running. Some are turned off to several has-beens who won’t give up on the idea of being president. There’s an argument for and against all 17 candidates and that makes me happy.

“Happy? Why happy,” you may ask. I think this much interest in the Republican side can only make the GOP stronger. There will be many debates, speeches and discussions between now and July 21. It’s a good thing to vet this process out and bring our choice down to one candidate that we all can get behind. That will be our biggest challenge – to get behind one candidate.

Between July 22 and Nov. 8, Republicans will have to show unity and strength to get the ball over the goal line. A lot rides on this election. The national trend will filter down to the state level and the local level. In Kalamazoo County, we have much work to do to win back the county. There is a Democratic majority on the county commission and several key offices held by the Dems, including Sheriff, Prosecutor and Drain Commissioner.

Several presidential candidates are coming to Michigan in September to the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference from Sept. 18 to 20. It’s not too late to attend. Contact the Michigan GOP at (517) 487-5413.