It has been over a month since the first Republican debate took place on August 6 in Cleveland, Ohio. Since that time, the polls have shuffled tremendously with Donald Trump and Ben Carson leading the pack at the state level and nationally. What can we expect to see at the CNN Reagan Library debate happening on Wednesday?
Report from MSNBC:
This week’s big political event is the second Republican debate on Wednesday. And it’s worth recapping what has changed in the month since the first one:
-Donald Trump has solidified his lead in the polls, and the critical coverage he received in July/August has been replaced by a perception that he’s bulletproof – at least for now;
-Ben Carson has surged into second place, despite what originally seemed like a lackluster performance at the first debate and despite very little campaign activity;
-Jeb Bush and Scott Walker have dropped – with Walker’s fall even more striking than Hillary Clinton’s decline over the past month;
-On the issues front, the Iran deal is essentially a done deal, while the odds of a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood have increased;
-Carly Fiorina has made it to the main debate stage, with CNN changing its debate criteria to allow for 11 to participate in the main debate, instead of the 10 we saw last month;
-And Rick Perry became the first casualty of the GOP race after he dropped out on Friday afternoon. That means that there will be one fewer Republican on the smaller debate stage Wednesday.
One other thing worth noting: There is going to be a significant time gap between Wednesday’s debate and the next one (in late October). That means some extra pressure on the GOP candidates – and maybe even more incentive to go a bit negative. Remember, the current fundraising quarter ends on Sept. 30.
I’d say this debate could be the one that either solidifies Trump’s lead or exposes his vulnerabilities but he’s constantly defying all political conventional wisdom so I’ll steer clear.
Perhaps the greater spotlight will be on Dr. Ben Carson who has improved the most since that first debate. He’s holding very strong second-place polling in Iowa, New Hampshire, and south Carolina right now. He’ll certainly field more questions and he’ll be looking to demonstrate himself as a better alternative to Donald Trump in terms of his demeanor and approach to governing.
Jeb Bush will also be trying to make a splash as his campaign is currently stagnant in the polls, if not dropping, and he needs some energy. The same for Scott Walker though Walker probably is running in a worse position than Bush and is in danger of becoming irrelevant if he doesn’t do something quickly to drive his polling back up.
The wild card is now Carly Fiorina, the only graduate from the early debate onto the primetime stage after a strong performance on August 6. She has been sniping at Trump during media appearances and may in fact try to take him on directly on Wednesday. She’ll be one to watch who will either knock some of the others out of contention or fall short and slink back into the single digits.