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What Did Nevada Voters Learn From The First GOP Debate?


The major Republican candidates for president – all 17 of them – took the stage in the first primary debate of the 2016 cycle.

Seven debated earlier in day Thursday in what could be described as an undercard debate. The 10 candidates with the highest polling numbers so far came on in primetime. 

Political Sciene Professor at UNLV David Damore told KNPR's State of Nevada that for many candidates, except Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, last night was a chance to improve name recognition.

Damore doesn't believe there was much in the debate that was specifically for Nevada voters.

"A lot of the questions were boiler-plate stuff. So we didn't get into Yucca Mountain or energy policy at all," Damore said.

He noted that the candidates did take up the issue of immigration, but few deviated from the standard "Republican rhetoric." 

Freelance journalist Hugh Jackson agreed that because of the number of candidates and the format of the debate it was difficult to get indepth on issues.

Jackson was surprised that two candidates talked about the issue of stagnate wages. Both Marco Rubio and John Kasich talked about how the economy has changed and how incomes have not kept up with economic growth. 

"I think that they understand this is going to be an issue in 2016 in a way that it hasn't been," Jackson said.

However, he felt that both candidates' solutions to the problem of income were the same as past Republican hopefuls, including Mitt Romney. 

Both Damore and Jackson agree that Thursday's debate was really about wooing money.

"A lot of this is about trying to attract donors and look viable to those folks as well not just to the voters," Damore said.

The next Republican Party presidential debate is set for September. A Democratic Party presidential debate will be held in Nevada in October. 

David Damore, political science professor, UNLV; Hugh Jackson, freelance journalist

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.