Tim Bryce: The not-so-great expectations for the GOP debates

First off, don’t expect a loud verbal tirade against Donald Trump on Wednesday by any of the other candidates. They now know if they offer a visceral attack, and Trump returns fire, Trump’s ratings will go up, not theirs. That’s because the public now perceives Trump as the voice of the people, a group mad as hell about how our government is being run.

Instead, expect the news media to attempt to engage Trump, particularly Hugh Hewitt who thinks he has Trump’s number. The only problem for Hewitt is that Trump has had time to think about their last exchange and will be ready.

Let’s hope that unlike the Fox debate, this one will be about substance, not character.

If one of the CNN panelists asks an inane question, look for fireworks and the panelist put in his place, much like as Newt Gingrich did it in 2012. The temptation, however, to ask such a question will be too much to resist, particularly in the mad dash for television ratings.

Attention will be paid to Trump’s foreign policy initiative that he’s releasing Tuesday. It will be under tight scrutiny in the debate. His ability to defend it will be critical. Trump will once again be put in the spotlight, something he’s used to, where the other candidates will challenge him and a spiteful news media will attack him. This should be a good challenge for him.

Poll after poll shows Trump’s popularity growing, closely followed by Dr. Ben Carson. John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina also continue to rise in the polls, but everyone else is in decline, including Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, both who’ve dropped 5 points.

Here’s the most recent national poll from Monmouth University, released Monday, typical of other polls’ findings. Changes since July are in parentheses:

28% – Donald Trump (+4 points)
17% – Ben Carson (+12 points)
11% – John Kasich (+4 points)
08% – Ted Cruz (+5 points)
07% – Jeb Bush (-5 points)
07% – Carly Fiorina (+4 points)
04% – Rand Paul (-1 point)
04% – Marco Rubio (-2 points)
02% – Chris Christie (-2 points)
02% – Scott Walker (-5 points)

Everyone else has either has 1 percent or less. That means unless something radical changes soon, we should expect the exit of Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum. Christie and Walker may not be far behind if they can’t reverse the course of their campaigns. Rick Perry dropped out this week.

Both the early debate and main-tier debate will be hosted by CNN and held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The early debate begins at 6 p.m. Eastern Time and features Graham, Santorum, Jindal, and Pataki.

The main event includes Sen. Rand Paul, Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Cruz, Carson, Trump, Bush, Walker, Fiorina, Kasich, and Christie.

CNN will stream the debates live at 8 p.m. ET; to access it on-line, see:

TV: http://go.cnn.com/?stream=cnn

Radio: http://streema.com/radios/CNN_Radio

CNN’s Debate web page: http://www.cnn.com/specials/politics/cnn-gop-debate-night

As always, the debate should prove most illuminating.

Stay tuned.

Tim Bryce is a writer and managing director of M&JB Investment Co. of Palm Harbor, Fla. He has more than 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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