Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The . . . Fifth? . . . GOP Debate

The Omnivore watched it--and while it's hard to know what will, tomorrow, make the most lasting impact--The Omnivore has a few observations.
  1. Rubio v. Cruz wasn't over-sold: they went at it hard.
  2. Jeb v. Trump wasn't over-sold: they clearly really do despise each other.
  3. Rand Paul really wants to fight with someone.

Predictions / Analysis

Here are some observations.

The End of Carson: Ben Carson's technique works when you assume he has hidden depths and a well of wisdom to draw from. When he answers a question with a weird analogy and you go "where is he going with that??" if you assume you're confused because he's so much smarter than you, it works. If you assume he has no idea what's going on either then it just sounds like he's bullshitting you. Carson name-dropped Syrian cities, the ages of weapon systems, and so on--coming off like someone who crammed for a test.

Jeb Will Go Out: Jeb brought it--but it won't be enough. Trump didn't crumble and while it's up for grabs who got the better of their exchanges, it's likely that more Trump supporters thought Trump won than Jeb supporters thought Jeb won. Jeb does not have enough of a base of voters to build a come-back around.

Cruz Isn't Likable: He comes off as smug, lawyer-ly, and lecturing. He also comes off as smart--but unless you are firmly in his target zone (evangelical, very conservative) he can be grating. This will cause him problems. He also tried talking over the moderators hard-core which didn't come off well. He won't lose his lead over this--but it will probably cause him some attrition and, if he can't control it, he may wind up being "likable enough" against Hillary.

Christie Did Well: Twitter likes Christie. Whether or not he will rise enough for it to be a factor isn't clear--but he could steal votes from Rubio. Watch New Hampshire.

The Net-Net

The debate has probably kept the status quo--but by merit rather than inertia. Trump probably appealed well to his base. Cruz will probably hang on to his lead--but may slow. Carson will continue to drop--his voters may go between Rubio and Cruz. Rubio will see Cruz as the guy to beat. Cruz will need to figure out how to take on Trump without going head-to-head.

Everyone else will dwindle.

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