It’s time to break out your presidential debate bingo cards or invent some rules for a drinking game (if you don’t feel like inventing your own, author/journalist Matt Taibbi crowdsources a list of rules on his Twitter feed for each debate). The final GOP debate of 2015 is upon us.
Las Vegas is the location and the setup will be similar to the other debates we’ve seen thus far. The undercard debate at 6p ET will feature Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki, who are all bringing up the rear in terms of poll numbers. The main debate will kick off at 8:30p ET with frontrunner Donald Trump situated in the middle of the stage, flanked by Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz. Also in the main debate, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Rand Paul.
One interesting storyline coming into this debate is Ted Cruz’s rapid ascent to near the top of the polls in Iowa, just seven weeks out from the caucuses. A Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll that came out Saturday has Cruz ahead of Trump by 10 points among likely caucus-goers. Cruz is the Tea Party favorite and, in the minds of many GOP voters, the closest thing running to a true conservative.
What are you expecting to see from the Republican candidates at Tuesday’s debate? Is there anything they can prove to voters at this point that they haven’t proven in previous debates? To what can we attribute Ted Cruz’s recent rise in the polls? Is this a trend we should expect to continue to see throughout primary season?
Eli Stokols, national politics reporter for POLITICO covering GOP 2016 field
Reed Galen, Republican political strategist and owner of Jedburghs, LLC., a public affairs and campaign consultancy firm in Orange County