The first Republican Presidential debate is set to take place Wednesday night in Milwaukee. Five candidates are currently lined up to put their resumes on display for the country- and one big name will likely be notably elsewhere that night. Geoffrey Skeller is the senior elections analyst for the website FiveThirtyEight.com. He appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to dissect their strategies, starting with Donald Trump’s decision to sit this one out.
“If this were a Senate race in some state, and someone had the kind of lead he did, it wouldn’t shock me if they avoided the debate,“ Skeller told Berman and Riedel. “That being said, this is not a Senate race, right, this is the Presidential primary, so I do wonder if Trump skipping gives an opportunity to some of these other candidates to really grab hold of the spotlight for a bit and get a lot of good headlines out of the debate, so that is a risk for Trump.”
Skeller intimated that the door might be open a crack to allow Ron DeSantis to re-establish some momentum. “Some of the things he’s done, (such as) his campaign announcement and going on now X, formerly Twitter… have been panned a bit, but obviously it’s still only August, and at the end of the day, DeSantis is polling better than any other candidate, and he does have a lot to run on, so I don’t want to by any means write him off.”
At the debate, however, Skeller thinks the field will have to decide for themselves how shadow boxing with the front-running Trump ultimately helps or hurts their chances. “If you’re trying to figure out how do I win this thing, how is there any path to victory, you don’t want to alienate the base of the party, which is largely backing Trump, so you’re sort of caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of how do you diminish Trump… but, at the same time, not alienate those voters… that’s the real challenge for those candidates, with Trump polling in the low 50’s nationally.”
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