And the Winner Is….
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
After the Republican debate it seems that several conclusions can be drawn for the Republican Party but the winner of the debate was Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. The Trump led slugfest suggested that the GOP could have one tough time producing a reasonable national candidate who can defeat Clinton, assuming Trump is indeed committed to being the Republican candidate or—if not– running as an Independent. In either of these two scenarios, the Republicans will not regain the White House in the 2016 election.
To clear the deck first, it seems that Carson, Huckabee, Christie, and even maybe Cruz and Paul are history. Their backers should find another horse on which to bet. Paul has a message and positions but no one cares. Scott Walker needs to impress more and not be so laid back or he too may not make drop off. Other than Trump the only real winner was Kasich, who barely made the cut but presented himself as an intelligent, serious candidate. Rubio looked like he was on the way up while Bush—had he not recovered in the last 30 minutes—might have imploded despite all the cash he already has raised. Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina, who was in the early debate of the outsiders might have earned herself a place at the next debate.
Trump’s capacity to keep the focus on him—directly or indirectly—by his outrageous, confrontational remarks sent a message to his supporters and the country that he really is serious about running for President. Not only was he blunt about running as an Independent, but he also made it clear to the country that he did not care about being “politically correct”—which much of his base loves–or addressing any real policy issues in a serious manner—about which his fans could care less.
Finally, the entire Trump style remains very scary and demagogic. His style is reminiscent of the charismatic yet horrific political hammerings that were heard but ignored in Europe in the 1930’s until it was much too late. Trump does not care about facts or details. He has no genuine policy positions beyond a few slogans and quips; and the public seems not to care. Trump speaks the language of the masses and they appear to be loving it. It could become a major challenge for the Republican Party to stop his flying train ride, especially if he continues to increase his polling numbers as he is clearly likely to do after tonight’s performance.