by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
After the third Republican presidential debate, only one question matters.
Did anything change?
All five candidates on the stage in Miami needed to shake up something in the fundamentals of the race.
They are all badly trailing former President Donald Trump, who is hovering around 60% in the national polling averages. They are also far behind him in the early states, including Iowa, which votes in January.
The theory has been that it will take Republican primary voters a while to pay serious attention to the race. But soon it will be Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
As Ronald Reagan might ask, “If not now, when?”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) was solid and disciplined, mostly staying above the fray but landing his occasional jabs against the losing culture that has afflicted the party since Trump — who’s become a different guy since 2016! — lost his mojo.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nkki Haley was forceful in her defense of Israel. The only thing that makes her madder than Iran is entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who went after her footwear and foreign policy throughout the evening.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) told stories about his life and tried to stay within the confines of the debate’s time limits. But he was the least ambiguous about his preference for a federal abortion policy, taking up the space to the right of Trump and Haley on an issue that has vexed Republicans at the ballot box since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Former New Jersey Gov Chris Christie.is the tough-talking guy who says he has actually done everything the other candidates are talking about, tossing truth bombs about Trump’s legal woes as if he just reinvaded Iraq.
But with few exceptions, all of these things have been done before. None of them seem to have made much of an impact on the race.