Style Over Substance As Republican Primary Voters Say Trump Won GOP Debate

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A Wall Street Journal/Google Consumer Surveys poll taken after the Tuesday night debate, found that voters who say they plan to vote in the Republican presidential primaries, felt that Donald Trump won the debate. According to the survey, 28 percent of Republican primary voters felt Trump won the debate. 23 percent gave the nod to Marco Rubio, with 13 percent identifying Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and another 13 percent declaring retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as the winner of Tuesday’s debate.

Trump, Carson, Rubio and Cruz, not coincidentally, are also the four leading GOP candidates in national polls. While Trump delivered few specific policies and exhibited some of his typical braggadocio, Republican voters seemed happy with his performance. The Republican base seems far more interested in style than substance, and Trump has the style they crave.

Even though Trump muddled his way through the debate, seemingly clueless that China was not even a party to the TPP trade agreement, GOP voters gave him a pass. He does after all promise to make America great again, and who doesn’t want that?

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Not only did Republican voters consider Trump the winner, but they also felt that those who attacked Trump’s logistically impossible mass deportation plan, were the losers of the debate. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Ohio Governor John Kasich both derided Trump’s immigration ideas as the impractical rantings of a candidate who isn’t interested in realizable solutions to the illegal immigration problem.

For their efforts to keep the GOP grounded in reality, Bush and Kasich were declared winners by just 3 percent and 2 percent of Republican primary voters respectively. So much for practical solutions.

Journalists and debate moderators are fond of saying they will press the candidates on the issues, so that voters can make an informed decision. However, those pundits may be misunderstanding the GOP base. They aren’t so much interested in substance, as they are interested in a candidate who shares their prejudices and articulates their somewhat nebulous hopes of making America great again, whatever that happens to mean to them.