The easiest way to tell whether you’re in California or New Hampshire is to walk into a coffee shop. If you don’t see a presidential candidate, you’re in California.
Our state’s presidential primary in June usually takes place in what the NBA calls “garbage time,” that final few minutes of play after the outcome is beyond any doubt.
But 2016 could be different.
On Wednesday, 15 Republican candidates for president were at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for two televised debates. An astounding 23 million people watched the CNN telecast, making it the No. 10 cable TV show of all time, behind eight college football games on ESPN and the GOP debate last month on Fox.
CNN’s previous ratings record for a presidential debate was set on Jan. 31, 2008, when an average of 8.3 million viewers tuned in. On Wednesday, even the early debate for four low-polling candidates drew an audience of over 6 million people.
The reason for the skyscraping ratings, of course, is Donald Trump. “Will they send me flowers?” he tweeted on Thursday.
“Trump deserves a lot of credit” for drawing tens of millions of viewers to the debates, said Shawn Steel, who represents California on the Republican National Committee. “Some candidates would give up organs for coverage like that.”
“Trump has brought a whole new dynamic to the Republican brand,” Steel said, by attracting alienated voters, independents and Democrats.
“His poll numbers in the African-American community are better than any Republican’s in the past 50, maybe 70 years,” Steel said. “And in the Latino community, where you might expect that he’d be polling at 5 percent, he’s at 25 percent. That’s Gallup. It’s quite a shocker.”
Steel said it’s evidence of illegal immigration’s “impact on working folks,” including Latinos who are legal immigrants. “You can’t dismiss it,” he said.
California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte said during a break between the debates Wednesday that the GOP candidates are “head and shoulders above what the Democrats have to offer.” RNC committeeman Shawn Steel called the field the “finest quality candidates in our lifetime.“
They’re getting a good long look from the voters, courtesy of Donald Trump. According to Nielsen data, millions of people who never watched a presidential debate before are watching now.
Could California’s political landscape be affected if new voters register in the Republican party to cast a vote for Trump, Rubio, Fiorina or another candidate in the GOP primary?
Read the full article . . . .
About the author, Susan Shelley is a San Fernando Valley author, a former television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for the California Assembly. Reach the author at Susan@SusanShelley.com or follow Susan on Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.