Thus far, Fiorina has benefited in no small part from the fact that many Republicans — even those supporting her opponents — wanted her to do well. Fiorina is a strong communicator and early on proved herself an effective attack dog against Hillary Clinton, unencumbered as she is by the appendage that makes some of her opponents watch their words for fear of being called sexist.
What’s more, many Republicans really like the idea of having a woman on the stage and in the conversation. Supporters and operatives working for rival campaigns speak highly of her — back in July, New Hampshire resident Paul Clark told Yahoo he planned to host an event for her even though he was working for Chris Christie. “It’s hard not to root for her,” says a Republican consultant affiliated with a rival campaign. Fiorina’s opponents even publicly supported her push to get on the debate stage this month.
Unsurprisingly then, other campaigns say they are unconcerned with her rise at this point. To them, at least, she has not yet proven that she is more than a passing fad. That would likely change if they start to believe she’s a real threat.
A big moment will come next month, when her campaign releases its fundraising numbers for this quarter. Her first quarter in the race, Fiorina’s fundraising was anemic — she raised a sum befitting a candidate for the Senate, not the presidency. Her haul this quarter will be a big test of her staying power. Though her staff is relatively small, and the campaign says it is built for the long haul, no candidate can stick around without money.