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A TV Star CAN Beat A Former First Lady (In Guatemala)

Jimmy Morales, the National Front of Convergence party presidential candidate, gestures to supporters after winning the presidential runoff election in Guatemala City, early Monday.

A TV star just won a landslide election for president, besting the country's former first lady.

Could it be a headline from the future — in November 2016?

Actually, it happened in Guatemala this past weekend, when, on Sunday, former TV comedian Jimmy Morales rolled to a victory over Sandra Torres, the country's former first lady.

Aside from completely different fundamentals to the race, there are some obvious parallels between the current U.S. political landscape. Guatemala, like the U.S., is a democratic republic with three branches of government — executive, legislative and judicial. And in the U.S., there's a reality TV star and billionaire businessman, Donald Trump, who's leading on one side and a former first lady, Hillary Clinton, is atop polls on the other.

According to the BBC, voters were also frustrated with political elites, and viewed Torres as one of them.

Morales campaigned as a "common man," though he faced controversy over some of his past comedy sketches that were seen as sexist and racist.

Sound familiar?

The similarities don't stop there. Morales was criticized during the campaign for his lack of policy proposals, putting out just six pages on outlining his ideas. But some of the proposals he did have were seen as eccentric and impossible by some — including promising to put GPS tracking devices on teachers to make sure they attend their classes.

Morales pledged to fight corruption in the country, too. Former president Otto Perez Molina resigned and was arrested last month after he was charged as part of a customs-fraud ring.

But could U.S. elections mirror Guatemala's next year? Trump remains in the lead nationally, though he has slipped in Iowa polls, and many Republicans remain skeptical he could go the distance to win the nomination. And Clinton, after strong reviews last week in front of the Benghazi committee, looks better-poised than ever to win the nomination.

The RealClearPolitics's average still had Clinton edging out Trump in hypothetical 2016 match-ups.

There's just under 100 days until votes are actually cast in the primaries. So, it will be a little while until the U.S. shows whether it will imitate Guatemala's unusual results.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

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