The July Surprise

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Ed Kilgore surveys the Republican primary landscape and throws out a few thoughts about the upcoming first debate on Fox:

  • Fox will allow only ten participants, chosen by the results of five national polls taken in the week or so before August 4.
  • Right now, Donald Trump is sucking up all the media oxygen, making it hard for marginal candidates to move up in the polls and avoid being forced into the kiddie debate.
  • This makes the end of July a critical period for all the C-list candidates.

Here’s Kilgore:

It’s increasingly clear the polling spike marginal candidates need to make the cut needs to happen in late July—not earlier, not later….John Kasich’s scheduled July 21st campaign launch probably couldn’t be timed much better; if he gets a post-announcement bounce, it could bounce him right up into the top ten. For those in the danger zone who have already announced—Perry, Jindal, Santorum, Graham, Fiorina, Pataki and maybe even Christie—the only way to get this sort of bounce is to force one’s way into the news.

So for these candidates, the big strategic question is whether throwing a bomb or three in late July to make the Fox debate cut is worth the long-term risk of self-marginalization. The alternative is to accept a place at the kiddie table “forum” earlier on August 6 and hope media, activists, donors and party elites don’t mentally strike one’s name from the insanely long list of contenders. I’m guessing most of these birds will not want to take that chance. Get ready for some serious gyring and gimbling in late July.

Sounds like fun! I hope they all take Kilgore’s advice. But what kind of bombshell could they drop that would make social media go wild? Discuss in comments, please.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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