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Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

The Wild Uncertainty of the Republican Primary

nordique / Flickr / Creative Commons

Last Wednesday evening a record number of 11 Republican candidates for president were on stage for a televised debate. I came away with the feeling that a real debate had not occurred.

The number of candidates was too large and the debate format lent itself more to chaos than to orderliness instead of a substantive discussion of issues. Frankly, I doubt that many people could recall much of anything that any of the candidates said, including Carly Fiorina, who many political pundits seem to agree was the winner. Some candidates were ignored and no issue themes were developed, partly because there was too much jumping around on different topics.

So far, there is no bandwagon effect for any candidate to be the party’s nominee for president. The Republican party changed its rules after 2012 with the goal of limiting the number of debates and moving the party primaries into a condensed schedule in order to have a presumed nominee for president in place by early 2016.

Beginning next March 15, states can hold primary contests that can give the winner all of the delegates of a state. Former top advisers to presidential nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney have said that it is possible that Donald Trump, who leads in the polls, could be the nominee by winning all of the delegates of many of these states with only a plurality and not a majority of the vote.

If no candidate is the virtual nominee by the time of the party nominating convention next July, Donald Trump could have a sizeable number of delegates committed to him, and he could have a decisive role at the convention in choosing a nominee.