I suppose we’ve all heard by now about Trump’s boycott of the Fox Debate tomorrow night.
What exactly is going through his head? Let’s take a look.
First off, I think Trump’s move is a mistake, although it might not have any large repercussions. Trump seems to be taking a dump on a very skilled and very fair reporter simply because she disagrees with him on a few things. But, by doing so, he has positioned himself to dominate the media for the next 5 days leading into the Iowa caucuses. Strategically this is an excellent move.
But will the media’s coverage be positive or negative, and what effect will his boycott have on his poll numbers?
Well, Herman Cain said this morning on his talk show that most people either love Trump, or they hate him. His poll numbers won’t suffer or rise very much. But even a slight move in the polls, at least in Iowa, could prove fatal for Trump’s bid for the nomination.
A recent Quinnipiac poll has placed Ted Cruz within 2 points of the Donald in Iowa, and another poll, this one by KBUR in Iowa, has placed Cruz IN THE LEAD by 2 points. In that same poll, Cruz has tied in Iowa with Donald for the female vote, at 23.5%. Cruz also takes more of the male vote than Donald, with 29.6% going to Cruz and just 26.8% going to Trump. The RealClearPolitics Average of all the recent Iowa polls places Cruz at just 5.7% behind Trump.
A slight shift of 5% for Trump could prove fatal to his campaign in Iowa and in the rest of the primary states.
However, Trump’s poll numbers might not go down. The lineup for the Fox News and Google Debate tomorrow night includes Rand Paul on the main stage with the big dogs. If I remember correctly, Rand boycotted the last debate because he wasn’t included in the main debate, and now he’s back on the stage. So, Trump’s move could be a very strategic move and give him a slight boost in the polls leading into the Iowa caucuses.
But a question still remains: Will Trump ACTUALLY boycott the debate?
Yes. His campaign manager made the announcement yesterday morning, and it seems pretty legit. Trump will be holding a separate event while the debate is going on to raise money for veterans, a noble cause but it could be a damning one.
Trump has dominated the Iowa caucus polls for a long time, almost consistently since mid-August, with the short exception of Ben Carson’s rise to the number one spot in November. He’s done even better in the national polls, with a recent CNN/ORC poll putting him at a whopping 41%, which is 22 points ahead of his closest competitor, Ted Cruz. The RealClearPolitics Average for the national polls places him ahead by 16.9%:
While Trump’s boycott may not have any sudden repercussions, negative or positive, for his standing in the national polls, whatever happens in Iowa will. Should the Donald lose the Iowa caucuses to Ted Cruz, we could see a drop in his numbers in New Hampshire and South Carolina, which could lead to a drop in his national numbers as well. I still maintain the Cruz is the most likely to be the nominee at this point, but I don’t think Rubio is out of it. Trump has a chance but his boycott could prove to be his downfall.
Verdict: Trump’s boycott looks like it will have more negative impact than positive. If his poll numbers drop in Iowa, I see Ted Cruz winning there and going on to win in at least South Carolina, while probably placing second or third in New Hampshire. Trump is being a little bit of a whiny baby, but it might pay off. We’ll have to see how the vote in Iowa goes down.