I wanted to let some time pass before jumping into the fray and offering some thoughts and articles which, I think, best represent the state of the race following Wednesday’s Republican debate. Conventional wisdom is now swirling that Jeb Bush’s campaign is on life support following a weak performance, though I think it will take longer for him to drop out than many people believe. There is another Republican debate on November 10 so I’m sure he’ll stick it out until then.
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight has some good reasoning why Bush is on the downhill side of his campaign:
Why does the conventional wisdom matter so much for Bush? Two reasons. First, because (as we pointed out before the debate) Bush’s “fundamentals” aren’t all that strong. He entered the debate with middling favorability ratings and polling at about 7 percent nationally. His endorsements have all but dried up: just two since Labor Day and none in the past three weeks, according to our endorsement tracker. His third-quarter fundraising totals were mediocre. This wasn’t a case like that of Hillary Clinton, who even at her worst moments was polling at 45 percent and had the overwhelming support of the Democratic establishment. Bush had a lot of work to do to gain the lead in the first place.
The other reason the conventional wisdom matters for Bush is because Bush is running a conventional campaign. It’s not as though he has all that much grassroots support: Only 3 percent of his fundraising has come from small donors. Instead, Bush needs the support of Republican elites — and favorable media coverage — to signify to reluctant Republican voters that he’s a viable nominee. And he needs their financial backing to win a potential war of attrition.
Essentially, for Bush, even a reasonably good debate performance wouldn’t have given him much help in the polls, he needed a walk-off grand slam to get back in the series. After his exchange with Marco Rubio over Senate votes, it was as if Bush became a lesser candidate realizing he was sorely embarrassed in front of a national audience by his former political student.
On that note, Rubio had a great night getting a lot of face time and applause lines. This might be the tipping point where Bush support begins to coalesce around the other Florida native son. Ted Cruz also had, in my opinion, his strongest showing to date. Whether you agree with his assessment of the debate questions or moderator tone, he certainly connected with the audience and probably have one of the most replayed soundbites of the entire event.
Donald Trump, by most accounts, delivered an average performance depending on who you ask. His answers received the most applause lines though his answers weren’t too noteworthy. Ben Carson was similar in that he quietly pushed his way through, arguing with the moderators at times but but not really bringing down the house.
John Kasich started off angry and wound up looking petty in many respects. He went on the attack against everyone else on stage and I don’t think it will buy him much in the polls. Chris Christie also had his strongest showing to date though I’m not sure if there is enough time on the clock left for him to make a serious run.
Rand Paul didn’t get much time and when he did, I don’t think he used it very wisely. The most memorable thing that sticks out in my mind is his placing blame on prior generations for having too many children which has caused social welfare programs to strain. He’s technically correct, but it didn’t sound very good when he said it.
Carly Fiorina did well, though perhaps not as breakout as she did in the last debate. Her numbers have been trending downward, I don’t know if this will be enough to stop it considering how well Rubio did as well.
An overnight poll found that among debate watchers, Trump took the top spot followed by Carson, Rubio, Cruz, and Fiorina. Report from OAN:
One America News Network, “OAN”, a credible source for 24/7 national and international news, announces its post-debate poll results taken immediately after Wednesday night’s GOP Debate in Boulder, Colorado. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump remains in first place with 32.7 percent. Dr. Ben Carson trails Trump by just over 10 points, landing in second with 22.6 percent. Rounding out the top three is Senator Marco Rubio at 14.5 percent.
In other debate news, the Carson campaign is openly declaring war on the current debate format and urging the Republican National Commmitee to make changes, report from CNN:
Ben Carson even told reporters on Thursday that he would be demanding a new debate format and was reaching out to the other Republican candidates in an attempt to force changes in the next debate.
“We need a change of format,” Carson said during a press conference in Lakewood, Colorado. “Debates are supposed to be to get to know the candidates, what is behind them. What it has turned into is a gotcha.”
Carson declined to specify exactly what changes he would ask for, but said his campaign was reaching out to the other campaigns to “lay out a plan” going forward for a new format.
CNBC has taken a lot of criticism since over the questions and tone taken by the moderators who, at times, acted more like debate participants that a questioner panel. As a result, the Fox Business Network is now vowing to do a “better job” at the next GOP debate held on November 10.