In a new Economist/YouGov poll, Republican respondents overwhelmingly approve of Donald Trump’s decision to skip the first GOP debate held last week in Milwaukee. But in looking forward to the second GOP debate (which will be held on September 27th in Simi Valley, California), the poll found that Republicans want Trump to attend.
“Fifty-seven percent of GOP voters said they think Trump should participate in the event,” NY-1 reported, “while just 17% said they did not. Twenty-six percent said they were not sure.”
Will Donald Trump attend the second debate?
Trump, for his part, has not clarified whether he will attend the second debate or not.
He did comment on Truth Social, saying that he would not be participating in any of the debates (“the public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!”).
But until Donald Trump comments explicitly about the second debate, I would take his blanket debate statements with a grain of salt.
Similarly, even if Trump does comment explicitly on the second debate, I would take that comment with a grain of salt.
Basically, we’re not going to know whether Trump is participating in the second debate until the second debate happens.
During the first debate, Trump ridiculed his fellow candidates, who he called “second-tier.”
“They’re just pretenders to the throne,” Trump said in a Truth Social video. “These aren’t presidential people. These aren’t presidential talents.”
Looking at the Second Debate
The first debate featured eight candidates. But the second debate has a more stringent qualification criteria. To qualify for the second debate, candidates will need to earn 3 percent in either two national polls or one national poll and two early-voting state polls. (For the first debate, candidates just need to hit 1 percent in a national poll).
And candidates will need a minimum of 50,000 individual donors, including 200 or more in 20 different states or territories. (For the first debate, candidates just needed 40,000 donors). So, expect the second debate stage to feature a narrower field.
So far, six of the right first debate participants have qualified for the second debate (Pence, Ramaswamy, Haley, Scott, DeSantis, and Christie). Doug Burgum and Asa Hutchinson, each of whom participated in the first debate, are still on the outside looking in on the second debate (neither has been able to cross the 3 percent threshold).
Does Donald Trump regret skipping the first debate?
Trump may find it hard to stay away from the spotlight of the second debate. But the aftermath of skipping the first debate is unlikely to give Trump any pressing incentive to attend the second.
Indeed, Trump slipped slightly (three points) after the first debate. But he still commands a staggering lead over the next-closest candidate. Trump doesn’t need to attend the second debate. It seems unlikely that attending or not attending will have sufficient influence on Trump’s thirty-something point lead to make much of a difference.
The poll that indicated a Republican voter preference for Trump attending the second debate did not examine the motives of those wanting to attend the debate. Were the voters undecided and looking for candidate clarification through a full-field debate?
Did the voters want Trump to attend on principle? Or did the voters want Trump to attend for pure entertainment value?
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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