Tonight on FOX News in Milwaukee , Wisconsin…..
Eight sweepstakes contestants …Maybe….
NO Donald J. Trump……
It’s not an unreasonable question, with the runaway front-runner for the Republican nomination deciding to skip it.
But there’s a case that we might just be getting a clearer view of the race in Donald J. Trump’s absence. We will certainly get a clearer look at an important dimension of the race that we might not have otherwise been able to observe.
Let’s start with a question from a reader, James Tucker of Plano, Texas, who pointed to something we’ve never addressed head-on until now: the possibility that Mr. Trump might not be in the race.
“Mr. Cohn, I enjoy your columns. Do you see any pollsters asking Republicans: “If Trump is not in the race, who would be your choice?” The possibility is real enough.”
It will surely seem real enough tonight, without Mr. Trump on the debate stage.
And it’s a possibility that might gradually take on greater significance in the weeks and months ahead….
Charlie Sykes: “There will be eight candidates on the stage, so they will have about 12.5 minutes each in which to have a breakout, viral moment to make everyone forget about DJT.”
Washington Examiner: “His behind-the-scenes behavior in the last few months shows how important he believes the debate to be. He has prepared for the debate for months, hiring the top Republican debate consultant, Brett O’Donnell, in May when some other candidates had not yet devoted any time to debate preparations. (Some of the candidates started looking for help as recently as three weeks ago.) When some of DeSantis’s debate prep documents became public, either accidentally or on purpose, it showed a candidate who had been doing his homework.”
“DeSantis spent a lot of time preparing for a debate in which Trump would participate. But he always believed that he, DeSantis, would be the prime target of his fellow candidates even if Trump were onstage. And, of course, Trump himself could have been counted on to trash DeSantis at every opportunity. Plus, most of the other candidates would have been too afraid to attack Trump in a way they would happily attack DeSantis. All of this indicates that DeSantis stood to lose the most of any candidate onstage regardless of whether Trump appeared, and his fellow candidates would like to help DeSantis have a bad night.”
Reuters: In Trump’s absence, DeSantis seen as ‘punching bag’ in first Republican debate.
Who Will Win The First Republican Debate?
We’re partnering with Ipsos and The Washington Post to poll voters before and after the candidates take the stage.
Wednesday is the biggest day of the 2024 presidential race so far. Eight candidates will take the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the first Republican primary debate. Chances are good that something will happen tonight that will be touted as a potential game-changer in the race: a viral moment, a particularly withering attack line, an out-of-nowhere tour de force. But how can we know whether that moment really changes voters’ minds, or if it was just a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Ideally, we’d take voters’ temperatures on the presidential primary just before the debate, then go back to the same people after the debate and ask them the same questions again.
So that’s exactly what we’re doing. FiveThirtyEight has partnered with Ipsos and The Washington Post to conduct a Republican primary poll both before and after tonight’s debate. The charts below represent the views of likely Republican primary voters between Aug. 15 and Aug. 22, the first wave of the poll. Tomorrow, we’ll update this page with the results of the post-debate wave with new findings about what — if anything — changed….
I will NOT be watching this…..
I WILL be updating stuff about it….
image….Joseph Prezioso/Agence France-Presse — Getty