Republican debate live updates and analysis: 8 candidates are facing off


The 2024 presidential election has been underway for months, but with tonight’s first Republican primary debate in Milwaukee, we’re kicking off a new phase of the campaign. In these final five months before voting begins, we’re going to have monthly debates, dashes through Iowa, big-money fundraisers — and probably a culling of the field.

Tonight’s debate will feature eight candidates. Front-runner Donald Trump, who has a 37-percentage-point lead in FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average, will not be among them, as he has opted to skip the debate. Instead, we will hear from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy; former Vice President Mike Pence; Sen. Tim Scott; former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley; former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum; and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

There are a few threads and tensions we’re going to be watching tonight. First, in the absence of Trump, will his challengers’ attempts to position themselves as a more favorable option fall flat? How will candidates make their case for being a better alternative to Trump without having the contrast on stage beside them? Secondly, what sort of friction will we see between the anti-Trump candidates and those running on more similar ideas or rhetoric?

We’ll keep an eye on all this and more. You’ll be hearing from the crew at FiveThirtyEight and ABC News — as well as some new friends at PolitiFact — throughout the night. The Fox News-hosted debate begins at 9 p.m. Eastern, and we have some colleagues on the ground in Milwaukee who will ensure you’re going in with everything you need to know.

Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned as we update the blog with real-time analysis, charts, thoughts, questions, ideas, idle fancies and more. Leading up until the debate starts, we’ll run through the state of the race so far. Once the debate starts, we’ll make sure we’re addressing everything happening on stage, including what issues the candidates talk about, who they attack, how they position themselves and what Americans think.

-Analysis by Maya Sweedler of FiveThirtyEight


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