Donald Trump’s Lead GOP Primary Looks ‘Insurmountable’ – The press is still autopsying the first GOP debate, which was held last week in Wisconsin.
Much of the analysis has, of course, centered around the candidate who chose not to attend: former President Donald Trump.
The lingering question: Will former President Donald Trump regret not attending the first GOP debate last week?
Probably not. And even if Trump were to suffer some consequences for not attending the debate, those consequences would be attenuated, so downstream that the consequences would be hard to attributing to the debate at all.
So, even if Trump ever suffers some sort of harm from skipping the debate (which is unlikely), he’s almost surely not going to consciously regret skipping out.
Donald Trump and the Debate
Despite Trump’s decision to skip the debate, he still influenced the debate – perhaps more so than any other candidate.
Really, the debate stage, and the GOP field, is split into two distinct fields. Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump. Fox News’s debate moderators even drew a line in the sand, asking the candidates explicitly whether they would continue to support Trump even if he were convicted on any of the 91 indictments he is currently facing.
Trump’s “absence was still felt and noticeable. And we know it forced the other candidates to rethink their strategies. From some of the reporting (and their campaigning thus far, too), it looked like the non-Trump candidates were going to attack each other or President Biden, but not Trump,” said FiveThirtyEight contributor Meredith Conroy.
The downside of skipping the debate
Polls show that Trump took a small dip after skipping the debate. Likely because Trump’s absence allowed other candidates to gain some air team, have their voices heard, jump into the news cycle, gain name recognition. People are talking about Mike Pence and Vivek Ramaswamy more this week than the week before.
Similarly, Trump missed the opportunity to dominate the event physically and verbally, in the way he has in the past. He missed the opportunity to generate some sound clips and to infuriate the opposition (in a way that inspires his own base).
That being said, Trump is going to be fine. Skipping the debate is not going to significantly impact his election chances. Trump is so far ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina. The other GOP candidates are more likely competing for spots in Trump’s cabinet or administration than for the GOP ticket, because that thing has probably been decided. I don’t want to speak declaratively when there are so many variables, and we are still so many months out.
But Trump’s lead is likely insurmountable for DeSantis or Pence or Ramaswamy or anyone else. FiveThirtyEight recently gauged Trump’s chances of winning the GOP nomination at 78 percent. Obviously, that leaves a 22 percent chance that Trump could lose the nomination.
But safe money is on Trump. And whether Donald Trump wins or not will rest on factors more significant than whether or not he attended the first debate in August in Milwaukee.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.
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