San Antonio, TX- We are now one week away from the first GOP Debate. In Ohio the top ten in the polls will come in from the fields and mount the stage. Instead of yelling about each other, all of these men and the one woman running will have a chance to yell at each other. There are several things to look for.
Firstly, the interesting thing is who is going to be there. Many, such as Rick Santorum, are very unhappy about FOX’s new format of only allowing the top ten in the polls to participate. And there is still some confusion about who will be there. FOX has not said exactly which polls they will average, nor how they will average them, nor even what they will do if there is a tie.
If they were rounding numbers, on Debate Day, they might be as many as twelve candidates on the stage, as Rick Perry, Chris Christi, and John Kasich are all very close to each other at the bottom end of the GOP Ladder.
One of the other interesting things to watch is can Donald Trump behave himself? Will he act like a real candidate, talk about substantive things, and show his vision for America? Or will he call the other candidates idiots, pound the podium, and argue with the moderator? If he does, it will make for great television, but also most likely bring about the long expected dive in Trump’s poll numbers.
Another person to watch is Jeb Bush. By this time he was supposed to be riding high, but instead he has been overshadowed by the wild rhetoric of Trump and the enthusiasm of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul supporters. Jeb is not doing well in the early state polls, and the debates will be a good metric of whether he can give some shots, let Donald Trump run his way out, and use the Bush money machine to gravel over any gap in enthusiasm.
But perhaps the person with the most to lose on the sixth of August will be Scott Walker. Polling well in early states, he lacks the perceived craziness of Trump and the money of Bush, but he still remains strong in early voting states, and nationally. There remains among some questions about Walker’s intelligence because he dropped out of college and won’t say if he believes in evolution. A mistake that by another candidate would simply be glossed over or completely missed could potentially be blown way out of proportion as “proof positive” that Walker is not intelligent enough to be president.
And, last but not least there is the question of the unknown candidates. The guys people have only heard about but don’t really know, or those who are doing poorly in the polls, but could have a strong debate showing. These include Ted Cruz, a great debater in his college days-who could do well. Also Marco Rubio, is still doing relatively well in the polls, but has lost traction as the Trump juggernaut began to get rolling. With Rubio’s great debates in the race for Florida Senate under his belt, he could conceivably use the debates as a staging his grounds for healing his beleaguered campaign. There is Kasich, Christi, Perry, and Carson, all of whom could do something unexpected and take a climb.
Anything can happen in debates. In 1960 they cost Richard Nixon the presidency, and in 2012 they all but destroyed Rick Perry when he said “oops.” Crazy things could happen. Trump might stay calm, Bush might lose it, Cruz could call someone a liar and lose any hope of establishment money, Walker might say the wrong thing, or Rand Paul might admit he is still an isolationist.
Either way, it will be fun to watch.
Andrew C. Abbott