The Republican National Committee (RNC) recently announced that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy will be the four participants in tomorrow night’s GOP primary debate.
Noticeably absent from that list for the fourth consecutive debate is GOP frontrunner former President Donald Trump. The RealClear Politics average polling shows Trump with a commanding 48.1-point lead over the rest of the field effectively giving him no reason to debate.
The fourth debate will be held in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moderated by Megyn Kelly, Eliana Johnson, and Elizabeth Vargas.
While the third GOP debate also featured South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, he has since dropped his presidential bid leaving four candidates left who met the qualifications for being on stage. Christie barely qualified based on his poll numbers, but many Republicans are calling for him to step out of the race.
Four candidates have qualified for the fourth Republican presidential debate. https://t.co/JWdX3g5gav
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) December 5, 2023
Trump will not only be skipping the debate, he will be attending a fundraiser for a Super PAC supporting his candidacy in DeSantis’ home state of Florida. During the third debate, he was also in Florida holding a rally of his own.
For a long time, it was DeSantis who was seen as Trump’s primary competition for the Republican nomination. Over the past few months, not only has Trump extended his lead to an almost insurmountable number, but Haley has pulled even with DeSantis or surpassed him in some polls.
While the RealClearPolitics average poll shows DeSantis with a three-point lead overall, Haley has clear leads in both New Hampshire and South Carolina. Haley has performed well in recent debates, and a good performance in the fourth contest could go a long way in her becoming Trump’s primary competition.
What seems to be clear is that if DeSantis, Haley, and to a lesser extent Christie continue to pull support away from each other, Trump’s lead will continue to grow. If, however, one candidate can distance themselves from the rest and bring all of the support together, that person may at least give Trump some competition in the primary.