Three is a charm, and the third Republican debate on CNBC was no exception to the rule. Wednesday night, the top ten Republican contenders took center stage in what many hoped would be a break out moment for their favorite candidates. With over two and half hours on stage, presidential hopefuls had every opportunity to present their vision for America going in the 2016 general election. However, at a glance it may be questionable whether the debate produced the favorable outcomes Donald Trump and CNBC had hoped for.
At the onset, the GOP debate offered little in regards to political theater. While the first GOP debate delivered on every expectation that the famous showmanship of Trump would draw in ratings, last night’s debate did not, in terms of a ratings grab. According to Nielsen Reports, the debate resulted in only about 10% of televisions tuning in. Other figures suggest roughly 14 million viewers were attracted to the fight. In contrast, the first GOP debate drew more than 16% of televisions tuned into the Fox network. Clearly, the CNBC debate wasn’t an extremely exciting event.
The biggest news from the debate did not come from the candidates seeking the GOP nomination, but rather from the feeble attempts from anchors seeking their Megyn Kelly moment possibly hoping it will catapult their careers into the limelight.
Throughout the debate, CNBC moderators took every initiative to wedge in their share of gotcha questions. Focusing on trivial political issues such as sports gambling, the debate took aim at every corner to steer candidates into controversial remarks and news making. Out of the gate, debate moderator John Harwood pressed Trump on his position regarding immigration, comparing Trumps policies to a comic book. Such tactics resulted in the immediate blasting of CNBC by RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, who said that CNBC “should be ashamed.”
However, the lack of ratings gives credence to the perceptions of Trump and his campaign being built upon nothing more than a wall along the border. Given that the theme of the debate was heavily centralized on fiscal policy, Trump’s inability to deliver applause could indicate he finally hit a proverbial brick wall with no where left to go.
According to NPR, Trump reeled in a solid 9:26 of total airtime, ranking him third among the field of ten candidates on the stage. With no shortage of breath, Trump failed to advance forward with issues of any real substance.
Granted, Trump did take on issues relating to the overall fiscal policy theme of the debate. Unfortunately, despite his superstar showmanship, Trump failed to excite the subscribers. It can reasonably be assessed that Trump, like our old friend Humpty Dumpty, has fallen from his wall and lay broken. With no other policy solid enough to rise above the other candidates, Trump doesn’t have enough kings to glue him back together again. In short, without his wall to sit atop, Trump remains, after the debate, nothing but an empty shell.
To close, the old saying may be that three is a charm, but in terms of the debates three may be a crowd. The third debate has seemingly been nothing more than an attempt by CNBC to garner their share of the ratings associated with hit pieces on the Republican party. Without a doubt, CNBC was hedging their bets on Trump delivering a few zany comments sure of steering a few controversial audio clips to fill the airways for days hereafter. Unfortunately, Trump didn’t sound much different from any other candidate. While those at CNBC had likely hoped Trump could bring in the excitement of those who share his isolated view of the southern border, it remains questionable whether or not Trump has the staying power to attract them to the voting booth. The failure to ignite controversy during the debate yielded none of Trump’s much needed sensationalism to bring home the wow.