One of the Washington Post's conservative columnist's offers her analysis of the GOP debate and one of the more liberal writers for the Post turned his attention to the general election. Last nights debate disappointed Jenifer Rubin, who has been a Rubio supporter, because the candidates decided not to act like school children. They decided to focus on policy issues instead of attacking Donald Trump. Rubio, Cruz and Kasich showed that they could answer the policy questions articulately, but they did not put a dent in Trump's armor. Trump was able to bullshit his way through the debate. He was clearly less informed about the issues and he easily deflected criticisms about the solutions that he has proposed to most of the issues. Trump survived the debate and he has a good chance of winning the Florida primary. Another chance to stop Trump's march to the nomination was wasted according to Rubin.
Greg Sargent decided to discuss Trump's chances to win the general election. All of the GOP candidates, including Trump, have focused on winning the GOP primaries. All of their remarks in the debates were directed towards conservative Republicans in conservative states. Consequently, they were forced to constrain their criticisms of Trump's positions on important policy questions. Each of the GOP candidates have proposed large cuts in federal taxes. Trump took the high ground on entitlements. He will not cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. There is no way that Trump can cut taxes and continue to fund entitlements. His opponents could not argue that tax cuts would endanger entitlements because they have also proposed tax cuts which will force cuts in entitlements. The Democratic candidate will not be similarly constrained. All of the GOP candidates are climate change deniers and so is the GOP electorate. The Democratic candidate will not let Trump off the hook on climate change in the general election. Lastly, the GOP candidates were forced to shy away from Trump's extreme positions on Muslim immigration and how to deal with illegal immigrants from Mexico. That will allow the Democratic candidate to attack Trump's extreme positions on these issues.
Sargent did not discuss trade agreements in his article. They were a big issue in the Democratic debates and both Trump and Cruz showed that they are ready to debate the Democratic candidate on trade policy in the general election. Neither of them has a workable plan to reduce US trade deficits, but its not clear that they would lose a debate on trade to the Democratic candidate in the general election. Cruz was able to easily attack Trump's position but Trump bluffed his way through a non-response to the attack. He may get away with that in the general election. Trump's strategy in the general election is designed get votes from Democrats in blue states who have been disappointed by the failure of the Democratic Party to protect their interests.