Donald Trump is now officially the Republican frontrunner, and voters can watch him debate his remaining GOP primary opponents streaming live online Saturday night as the other candidates will likely sharpen their knives for Trump as they try to knock him off his pedestal after he scored a runaway victory in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, pulling in upwards of 100,000 votes — more than twice as many as his nearest competitor.
But moving into the South Carolina primary, the next stop on the Republican 2016 election year caravan, Trump again appears unbeatable — leading the field in the Real Clear Politics polling average by a dominant 17 points.
Trump is polling at 37.3 percent in South Carolina, with ultra-conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz a distant second with 20.3 percent and “establishment” favorite Marco Rubio even farther back in third place with just 14 percent.
The Republican field has been winnowed after the New Hamsphire primary, with both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina dropping out of the race after placing sixth and seventh respectively in New Hampshire.
With just six of the seven remaining candidates on the stage Saturday, the debate will feature the smallest lineup of the nine Republican debates so far. The only candidate excluded from the debate roster was former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, who subsequently also dropped out of the race after finishing in last place with a microscopic total of only 134 votes in the New Hampshire primary.
jim gilmore smiles…”every thing is going exactly as planned.” pic.twitter.com/Tt9Uvj6rZA
— darth™ (@darth) February 10, 2016
Watch a live stream of the ninth Republican debate in the video below, or see further down in this article for alternative streaming information.
Voters can also view a preview of the ninth Republican debate, with moderator John Dickerson of the CBS News Sunday morning program Face The Nation, and Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel who will also pose questions to the candidates. The preview can be viewed in the video below.
CBS White House Correspondent Major Garrett rounds out the three-person panel of questioners.
To find out how to watch the ninth Republican Presidential Debate live online, see the streaming link in the final paragraph of this article. The debate gets underway at 9 p.m. Eastern Time at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina — 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
The Republican primary on South Carolina will take place on February 20, one week after the debate, so if Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, author and physician Ben Carson, and Ohio Governor John Kasich — who placed second in New Hampshire — plan to make any attempt to knock Trump off of his perch, Saturday’s debate would be a good time to start.
So far, while the other Republican candidates have spent considerable time and resources attacking each other, none has waged a concerted effort to undermine Trump, perhaps assuming that the billionaire real estate developer and reality TV personality will simply fade away as voters tire of his novelty.
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But that wishful thinking appears increasingly unlikely. Trump on Tuesday became the 10th Republican candidate since 1980 to win at least 20 percent of the vote in both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Of the previous eight, four went on to win the Republican nomination with three more finishing a relatively close second.
In 2016, Republicans seem to be assuming that Trump falls into the category of the other two, Pat Buchanan in 1996 and Ron Paul in 2012, both of whom turned out to be fringe candidates when all was said and done.
According to FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver, however, assuming may not be good enough this time.
“One reason that candidates like Trump have rarely won nominations in the past is because parties take a lot of steps to fight them,” Silver wrote. “If the Republican Party’s defense mechanisms are broken, or if it assumes Trump will go away without intervention, the rest of the party may be competing for second place.”
The ninth Republican presidential debate will be aired by CBS, and voters can watch live streaming of the debate for free without login credentials required on the CBS News site, which can be accessed at this link.
[Featured Photo By Joe Raedle / Getty Images]