Five Questions to Answer Before the Republican Presidential Debates

The 2016 presidential election campaign heats up this week with the first Republican presidential candidate debates.  It should be an incredible debate week.  The big debate is the “Top 10 Debate” on Fox News on Thursday, August 6th, at 9 PM/ET featuring the Top 10 Republican presidential candidates.  The Top 10 candidates are chosen based on the average of five major polls as of Tuesday, August 4th at 5 PM/ET.  The Top 10 Debate will be preceded by the “Runner Up Debate” or as Lindsey Graham called it, the “Happy Hour Debate.”  The Runner Up Debate is also on Fox News at 5 PM/ET on Thursday, August 6th, and will include the rest of the 17 Republican presidential candidates that didn’t make it into the Top 10 Debate.  Before these debates, it’s worth answering five important questions.  Let’s talk about these questions now …

1.  What Republican Candidates Will Get into the Top 10 Debate?

At the time of the writing of this article (Monday, August 3rd), the Republican presidential candidates likely to be in the Top 10 Debate are in order of polling numbers from WSJ/NBC:

  • Top 5 – Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz
  • Next 5 – Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich

Rick Perry appears to be in 11th place and just misses out.  Rick Perry and the remaining 6 others (Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore) are likely to attend the Runner Up Debate.

2. What Trends Do We See in the Latest Polls?

  • Trump has taken a solid lead in the polls. According to the recent Monmouth University poll released this week, Trump appears to be doing well among men and women, in all age groups, and among Tea Party supporters.  Trump also leads with very conservative voters, moderately conservative voters, and even among more moderate to liberal voters.
  • Cruz support is trending upward.
  • Bush is trending downward.
  • Rubio is trending downward.
  • Quite a few Republican presidential candidates seem to be dropping off the radar, at least for now.  Many Republican presidential candidates are having trouble getting up to, or over, 1%.
  • Names from the past 2012 Republican presidential candidate list including Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum don’t seem to be taking off.

3. Why are Trump and Cruz doing well, while Bush and Rubio seem to be declining?

In the past two weeks, Trump and Cruz have shown strong leadership.  Trump’s tough stance on illegal immigration has been well received by voters who are fed up with the flood of illegal immigration, and who are upset that Republicans in the House and Senate are seemingly unable to shut down the influx of illegal immigrants.  Cruz made a bold challenge to the president to debate him on the awful Iran nuclear deal, at a time and place of the president’s choosing.  Cruz also showed he’s a tough debater in the Senate in a confrontation with John Kerry over the Iran nuclear deal.  Voters like their toughness.  It compares favorably with the weakness displayed by some House and Senate leaders.

Bush seems to have peaked before entering the race.  Compared to others, his stands on Common Core and amnesty are not viewed favorably by conservatives.  Similarly, Marco Rubio’s promotion of a weak illegal immigration bill hurts his chances of being a candidate that conservatives can rally around.  To some conservatives, Marco Rubio is simply not a conservative on amnesty.

4.  What Should We Look for in the Top 10 Debate?

  • Will Donald Trump provide more details on how he will run the country, if elected president?
  • Will Donald Trump criticize other candidates’ policies?
  • Will Ted Cruz wow the audience with a rock-solid command of the issues (as apparently he did at the Dana Point conservative conference of 450 donors recently)?
  • Will 2 or 3 or 4 Republican presidential candidates move out ahead of all the other contenders?  Or, will the field stay big for a few more months?

5.  Will One of the Republican Presidential Candidates from the Runner-Up Debate Do such a Good Job that they Move Up to the Top Tier?

  • The Runner-Up Debate is important too.  Will one of those candidates stand out and then, move up in the polls following the debate?

For More Information

For more information on the 2016 presidential election, please read my weekly blog posts on You can also read more about related issues in my newest book: Renewing America available in a print edition from Amazon and from other booksellers.  It’s also available in a Kindle edition and for other devices.

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