How Will the Republican Debate Impact the Polls Next Week?

Americans got to see glimpses of 15 Republican presidential candidates in this week’s Republican Presidential Debate at the Reagan Library.  It was a marathon of nearly five hours of questions and answers (3 and 1/4 hours for the main debate and 1 and 1/2 hours for the runner up debate).  What are some overall impressions of the debate, the format, and importantly, the impact on polls moving forward?

What are Some Overall Impressions of the Debate?

The debate format was clumsy and contrived.  Jake Tapper seemed to ask most questions and spent much of his time cutting off presidential candidates with the words: “Thank you, Governor” or “Thank you, Senator.”  Bringing up big national issues and giving candidates 1 minute or 30 seconds to respond seems very limiting.

Also, why didn’t Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Hugh Hewitt share the role of asking questions?

Another problem with the format was the fact that the questions were framed with words like:

  • “Candidate A - Is Candidate B wrong on this issue?”
  • “Candidate A – Is what Candidate B says a surrender by Republicans?”
  • “Candidate A – You said this about the issue.  Candidate B said something else.  Tell Candidate B why they are wrong

What might be a Better Debate Format?

My suggestion is simple.  It also offers more substance to the policy issues that the debate covers.  Plus, it gives the American electorate a more in-depth understanding of the leading presidential candidates.  Here’s how my suggestion would work:

  1. Before a debate, average 10 national polls and select only the Top 4 candidates by highest average polling results.
  2. Hold two debates for one hour each, back-to-back.
  3. Debate #1 (Hour #1) – Top 2 candidates in the polls debate each other (Lincoln-Douglas Style) with no moderator at all except for introductions.  First half hour on Foreign Policy issues.  Second half hour on Economic/Domestic issues.
  4. Debate #2 (Hour #2) – Candidates who are third and fourth place in the polls debate each other.  Same Lincoln-Douglas Style debate format as above.

There is no need to hear from every candidate that has only 1%, 2%, 3% or even 5%, 6%, 7% in the polls.

How will the Republican Presidential Debate Impact the Polls Next Week?

First, how did the individual candidates do?  I will just mention some candidates here that stand out in some manner:

  • Donald Trump – Didn’t hit a home run.  Didn’t strike out.  Could present detailed policy solutions.  Polls will probably stay within +/- 5% of current polls.
  • Carly Fiorina – Sounded presidential in some ways.  But, lacked a certain degree of enthusiasm and energy.  Could present a more optimistic vision.  Poll numbers will probably go up. +5 to +8%.
  • Ben Carson - Thoughtful and cerebral candidate with strong character.  Didn’t show the enthusiasm and energy of a leader.  Not particularly presidential.  His answer on minimum wages shows a lack of economic knowledge and political savvy.  I think he was hurt by this debate overall.  Carson polls will probably go from 20’s down to about 15%.
  • Marco Rubio - Showed signs of presidential leadership, especially in foreign policy.  Polls will probably go up by 2% – 4%.
  • Ted Cruz – Not much air time.  In-depth answers.  Polls will probably go up 2% – 4%.
  • Chris Christie – Showed some presidential leadership and energy.  Probably NLCIP.  (Pronounced NULL-SIP,  means “No Large Change in Polls.”)

All the others candidates are probably NLCIP too.

For More Information

Please read my weekly  blog posts on the 2016 presidential elections.  Also, scheduled to come out on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016, my new book on the critical presidential election of 2016, and how the political parties will change, and a whole lot more.

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