Some Thoughts Just Before the Final GOP Debate

Some thoughts:

We are entering the "lull" before the "storm" with America's attention largely shifting to the holidays. The Las Vegas debate will be the final time before voting begins for the candidates to make an impression on millions of voters at one time.

2. Donald Trump still leads in national polling but now trails Ted Cruz in Iowa. This is  major development that demonstrates the true weakness of Trump's support. Caucus polling is significantly more difficult than those for primary elections, so we don't really have a confident sense of how things will actually turnout.

A critical portion of Trump's support comes from voters who did not cast a ballot in the 2012 election. They are generally disconnected from politics. That reality, coupled with the difficulty in polling caucuses, leads me to conclude that a poor showing by Trump could dishearten his supporters in New Hampshire and cast real doubts on his ability to win there.

Cruz has nearly locked up the evangelical vote in South Carolina and stands likely to win that state.

3. Both Trump and Cruz cause heartburn for the GOP establishment. Trump is not a serious candidate and would get blown out in a general election. His presence on the top of the ticket would hurt Republican turnout in down ballot races in Congress and the state legislatures. That is good news for the Democrats, who would be in play to recapture the U.S. Senate.

Cruz is a serious candidate, albeit it one who has take unserious positions on some issues to inflame the grassroots. He has built his political persona on thumbing his nose at the establishment. While this energizes the right wing of the GOP and positions him to inherit most of Trump's voters when he leaves the race, it is not a recipe for trust and teamwork. Cruz is seen as a "loose cannon" who cannot be relied upon to work with the establishment.

Posted by Michael Fauntroy on Sunday, December 13, 2015
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