January, 2016

Democrats Tuning In to GOP Debates

Pew Research: “While a majority of Americans have watched at least one of the debates for the 2016 presidential election, there are striking differences between parties when it comes to which side’s debates people are watching. Democratic debate watchers have in large numbers tuned in to the opposing party’s debates, something far less common among Republicans.”

“Overall, Republicans are watching presidential debates at higher rates than both Democrats and independents (64%, compared with 53% of Democrats and 56% of independents). But among those who do watch debates, seven-in-ten Democrats who have seen at least one watched a Republican debate, compared with about half (49%) of Republicans who watched a Democratic debate.”

Trump Gloats About Skipping Debate

Donald Trump took a victory lap after skipping last night’s presidential debate, Politico reports.

Said Trump: “I think we’re going to do really well in Iowa. We’re leading in the Iowa polls. And Cruz is in the second place. He got really pummeled last night. I’m glad I wasn’t there. And they didn’t even mention that he was born in Canada.”

He added: “So he got beaten pretty badly last night. And I don’t know what’s going to happen to him.”

A Three-Way Battle for the Republican Party

Charles Krauthammer writes that Republicans in their presidential nominating process “are dealing with a full-scale riot.”

“The 2016 presidential race has turned into an epic contest between the ethno-nationalist populism of Donald Trump and traditional conservatism, though in two varieties: the scorched-earth fundamentalist version of Ted Cruz, and a reformist version represented by Marco Rubio (and several so-called establishment candidates) — and articulated most fully by non-candidate Paul Ryan and a cluster of highly productive thinkers and policy wonks dubbed ‘reformicons.'”

Why Trump Won Without Showing Up

First Read says Donald Trump’s move to skip last night turned out to be a brilliant tactical move for three reasons:

  1. “The man who’s his closest competition in Iowa, Ted Cruz, had maybe his worst debate performance of the cycle. And a lot of it was due to the fact that he — not Trump — was the candidate with the target on his back.”
  2. “Trump also won by not showing up because he avoided getting the same kind of brutal video montage that Fox News showed first on Rubio (with his past statements vowing to fight amnesty and an earned path to legalization — before backing the Gang of Eight immigration bill), and then on Cruz (on supporting immigration reform and a path to legal status). It was evidence to Iowa conservatives that NO ONE is going to get to Trump’s right on the issue of immigration.”
  3. “Given it all, Trump got to protect his lead in Iowa and in the other early contests. Now it’s still possible that Trump could lose Iowa – due to turnout — but it won’t be because of last night’s debate.”

Dan Balz: ““The evening offered an almost perfect reflection of the state of the Republican race, with Trump occupying his own space and the rest of the candidates competing with one another to emerge as his principal rival. In Trump’s absence, the other hopefuls struggled with only limited success to distinguish themselves as the best of the rest.”

Just Another Undercard Debate Without Trump

Matthew Continetti: “What I find interesting is that none of the candidates on the debate stage have figured out how to respond to the issues driving Trump’s ascent. Trump focuses on four things: immigration, trade, political correctness, and a corrupt and inept system. These subjects cross partisan lines and are responsible for the unusual nature of the Trump coalition. But because Trump’s views on immigration and trade and political correctness and campaign finance are so askance from the Republican mainstream, the other candidates barely touch him.”

“Either Donald Trump is for real or he’s not. If his voters show up, he will be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. If they don’t, then Cruz, Rubio, even Bush have a shot at taking his place.”

Rick Klein: “It turns out that a world without Donald Trump is filled with Donald Trump anyway. To many in the Republican Party, Thursday night’s debate was a dream scenario — seven candidates, and not a reality TV show billionaire in sight. No huge walls were hypothetically built, and no religious groups were banned from entry into the United States. Yet Trump was still everywhere.”

A Debate Nightmare for Republicans

Ron Fournier: “Will duck­ing the de­bate hurt Trump’s stand­ing with pa­ro­chi­al Iowa voters or em­bolden his icon­o­clast­ic brand? I trust Trump on this one: He said, ‘Who the hell knows?'”

“What I do know: Thursday night was a night­mare for the GOP—an­oth­er step to­ward what ap­pears to be a deep and en­dur­ing split between the party’s es­tab­lish­ment and its angry in­sur­gents, a rude and un­ruly polit­ic­al cir­cus that re­af­firms for in­de­pend­ent voters their worst im­pres­sions of the Grand Old Party.”

Rubio Shuts Down Expectations of 2nd Place Finish

Despite talk of momentum on their side, Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign is shutting down talk of anything but a third place finish in Iowa, Politico reports.

Said senior adviser Todd Harris: “Second is not in the cards. It’s never been our goal. Our goal is to finish a strong third and exceed expectations. But there’s no question in my mind that Cruz will likely win here and Trump will be a strong second.”