Seven Republican candidates are gearing up for the second presidential debate, set to take place on Wednesday evening. However, former President Donald Trump will not be among them, as he has chosen to skip this event, much like he did with the previous debate held in Milwaukee. Despite his absence, recent polls show that Trump’s lead in the Republican primary race has only grown stronger.
According to the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll, Trump is currently leading the pack by a substantial 46 percentage points. To put it into perspective, just before the first GOP debate in August, he held a 40-point lead in the same poll. This significant lead indicates that Trump remains a formidable force within the Republican Party, even without appearing on the debate stage.
Among the candidates participating in the debate, there are some notable figures:
- Chris Christie: The former governor of New Jersey is focusing his campaign efforts on New Hampshire, where the first official GOP primary will be held next year. Christie has been gaining ground in the polls by directly challenging Trump and is known for his strong debating skills.
- Doug Burgum: As North Dakota’s governor, Burgum is primarily campaigning on economic issues and is funding his campaign with his substantial personal fortune.
- Mike Pence: Former Vice President Mike Pence is one of the most well-known candidates on the stage. He is running as a traditional social conservative but has faced challenges in gaining traction among Republican voters, partially due to his fallout with Trump following the January 6 Capitol riot.
- Nikki Haley: The former governor of South Carolina has recently risen in the polls. Her relationship with Trump has been complex, as she has alternated between being critical and supportive of the former president.
- Tim Scott: As the only Black Republican in the Senate, Scott is a favorite among big-money donors and conservative pundits. He emphasizes his personal experiences with racism and his conservative positions on various issues.
- Vivek Ramaswamy: At 38 years old, Ramaswamy is one of the younger candidates in the GOP field. He has gained popularity as a staunch defender of Trump and has been involved in confrontations with other candidates during previous debates.
- Ron DeSantis: The Florida governor and Yale and Harvard Law graduate was initially considered a strong contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, especially with Trump’s endorsement. However, he has lost some support since the start of his campaign, and the debate will be a crucial moment for him to regain momentum.
It’s worth noting that the viewership for the first GOP debate held a month ago exceeded expectations, with 12.8 million viewers, making it the largest audience for a non-sports event on cable TV in that year. However, it still fell short of the viewership seen during the 2015 and 2019 debates. This time around, it is expected that viewership may decrease compared to the previous debate, in line with the trend seen in past presidential primary cycles. Notably, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not meet the criteria to participate in the debate.
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