The battle for the GOP nomination continues with last night’s third debate, spitefully “moderated” by CNBC. (By the way, there was nothing “moderate” or fair about most of the questions asked last night.)
Despite political pundits hailing Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as triumphant, the American public seem to disagree, at least online. Every poll, from Drudge to TIME, has named Donald Trump as the winner of last night’s debate. He also came across as much more reserved, agreeable, and far less brash. No one can argue that there is more substance there.
However, the question remains: can Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star, actually clinch the GOP nomination? Droves of Trump fans out there sincerely believe he will. But despite Trump’s success in the polls, many still laugh off his candidacy as a joke and his campaign as unsustainable.
There are some who caution that Trump’s popularity is not just a fad for conservatives and moderates who are sick of big government and politicians. His position at the top of the pack might be very difficult to unseat based on polling trends from previous elections. Someone I know recently cited this article from 2007, which makes the point that traditionally, early front runners end up clinching the nomination. This would mean that Trump’s early lead would indicate an inevitable victory.
However, this election cycle is far different from any before it. For one thing, there are far more candidates this time than in previous primaries, which allows for a very uneven distribution of votes. Soon we will see the field winnow to just a few and poll numbers will hold a lot more water. Establishment votes are currently split between Bush and the slightly more conservative Rubio, but one of them will eventually drop out and leave the other with his votes.
The Republican Party is arguably more divided than it has ever been. While in years past the party may have rallied around one or two favorites from the get-go, this year each candidate is a slightly different GOP flavor. I believe it will take the GOP much longer to unite behind a single candidate. I also believe debate is good for any party and good for conservatism.
Donald Trump has stayed consistently in the number one spot since July, only recently falling in one Iowa poll. Who or what can knock him down at this point? What does his Iowa slump mean? Could this be a sign of bigger losses for the Trump camp or will he win out in the end, leaving the other guys (and gal), in the dust?