The two Republican debates have proven to be a winnowing process, providing a window into which candidates might actually be elected president, and which won’t.  One can see five of the eleven on Wednesday’s stage at the Reagan Library as actually electable: Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush, current governors Chris Christie and John Kasich, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

This summer of Trump is a winter of discontent for the Republican establishment; horrified by the impact the boorish businessman is having.  But to the GOP electorate, the Republican establishment is little better than the French court at Versailles, and it wants to see their heads off.  The sole qualification for president seems now to be never having held any political office.

And that bring us to Carly.  Like the two leaders in the polls, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, she has not held political office, although that is thanks to California voters having defeated her for the US Senate in 2010.  But unlike Trump and Carson, Fiorina clearly understands complex issues and seems by most accounts to have been the outstanding performer in theWednesday debate.

So could the Republican establishment, frost bitten now in this cold political winter, find glorious summer in this outsider candidate?  It is not out of the question that the officeholder candidates continue to flounder and fade, and Fiorina becomes the darling of a GOP electorate that no longer will put up with elected politicians.

So how would Fiorina perform if indeed she did emerge as the GOP nominee?  Her race for Senate in California gives some hints.  While she lost badly to incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010, she did do better than the rest of the GOP ticket.

Fiorina received 42 percent of the vote in her losing effort.  But that was a point better than GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman who spent $100 million of her own money on the race.  And Fiorina outpaced all but one of the other GOP candidates on the statewide ballot.

Forty two percent is nothing to write home about, and Boxer is less popular than other California Democrats.  But this is a deep blue state, and compared to other Republicans Fiorina did do well in some of the rural areas and smaller cities.  More importantly, she also showed some strength in the moderate suburbs. She carried Ventura County, Southern California’s archetypical moderate suburban county, and did very well in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties which contain both inner city and suburban neighborhoods.

For a Republican to win in November, he or she must carry the moderate suburbs in the swing states: the counties around Denver, suburban northern Virginia, suburban Florida, and suburban Cleveland; while at the same time running up huge margins in the rural parts of these swing states.  At least based on her 2010 performance in similar parts of California, Fiorina could have the potential to do so.

But Fiorina has some real negatives.  In 2010 she seemed tone deaf to demographic changes in California and did extremely poorly among Latino voters, even though Boxer presented a good target with those voters.  She may be too right wing on social issues to carry enough moderate suburbanites against a Hillary Clinton.

And she is a sitting duck for the heartless plutocrat charges that sunk 2012 nominee Mitt Romney.  While she headed Hewlett Packard and from which she was fired in 2005, she oversaw a merger with Compaq that led to the loss of some 30,000 jobs, while she got a fat golden parachute upon leaving the company.  In 2010, the Boxer TV spots on Fiorina ended with the tag line “outsourcing jobs, out for herself.”  As Ricky would say to Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.  How she handles her own business record in the next few months will tell us a lot about her viability as a general election candidate.

The chances for a Republican to defeat Clinton, or any other Democrat, in 2016 are very slim indeed, due simply to the demographic changes taking place in America. The White House just announced a program to help the 8.8 million legal residents in the country become citizens before the next election.  Guess how they will vote.

Additionally, no Republican can win without carrying the several swing states won twice by President Obama and that are bulging with suburban women and growing Latino populations.

It was remarkable Wednesday how many men on that stage were so out of touch with political reality they would have a better chance to be elected president of Latvia than president of the United States.  Fiorina can be different.  Whether she will be an effective outsider for the primary voters and mainstream enough for general election voters could be one of the major questions of the next few months.