Preview of the CNN GOP debate

On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, there will be 11 Republican candidates in a two-hour prime-time CNN debate set for 6:00pm MST. Two hours earlier – at 4:00pm MST – there will be a one-hour debate with the other 4 candidates in the race. Rick Perry has dropped out of the race, and since Jim Gilmore has yet to get 1% on any major poll, he has not been invited to the afternoon debate.

The earlier debate will feature Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki. it is fortunate for Chris Christie that CNN decided to let the Top 11 candidates in the primetime debate and not the Top 10. Jindal tried to make news this week by launching an attack against Trump, calling him a “narcissist” and “weak.” Pataki also said he would not stick to the loyalty pledge and support whoever the GOP candidate is if the candidate winds up being Donald Trump. I don’t expect good ratings for this debate, but if one of the four can have a good moment, some solid answers that go viral, that could help. Mostly I think at least three of them continue to languish in obscurity. It may be too late for all four.

The primetime order from the center out will be Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, and on the edges of the stage, Rand Paul and Chris Christie.

It was less than two months ago when Scott Walker had the lead in Iowa. He needs to stop his freefall and get his campaign refocussed.

So how are these candidates really doing? I took the most recent eight national polls, the two most recent Iowa polls, and the two most recent New Hampshire polls to give a snapshot power-rank of these presidential hopefuls.

1. Donald Trump – 28.5%
2. Ben Carson – 15.7%
3. Jeb Bush – 7.9%
4. Ted Cruz – 7.4%
5. Marco Rubio – 5.7%
6. Carly Fiorina – 5.4%
7. John Kasich – 4.8%
8. Scott Walker – 4.7%
9. Mike Huckabee – 3.6%
10. Rand Paul – 3.5%
11. Chris Christie – 2.2%
12. Rick Santorum – 1.1%

Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki, in that order, average less than 1%.

The last debate resulted in Trump’s numbers dipping for about a week before bouncing back to his best yet. Walker’s unmemorable performance resulted in his numbers cratering. Rand Paul saw his favorables fall, while Ben Carson saw his rise.

Other Notes:

– The attempted Democratic coronation of Hillary Clinton rolls forth. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said she will bar any candidate from the regular debate if they try to have extra, unsanctioned debates. Dems won’t have one until October. Meanwhile Bernie Sanders is now ahead of Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire.

– Rick Perry’s Super PAC still has $13 million. Most donors to the PAC are expecting to get their money back.

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