GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have the most at stake in Tuesday's debate in Las Vegas, Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia said Monday, as both men are battling for Iowa.
"They're going to be going back and forth at one another," the political strategist told Fox News' Fox and Friends. "The other contestants on the stage there are just going to be trying to get in a word edgewise."
Meanwhile, he continued, the focus of the nation's concerns is changing, and that could bring even more benefits for Trump.
According to a Fox News poll
released over the weekend, national security is the top concern of Americans, at 34 percent, followed by economic issues at 32, immigration at 15 and social issues at 8 percent.
"The economy is not going to disappear," said Sabato. "That's a statistical tie between the economy and national security. If you're asking me, have things after Paris and San Bernardino changed to the point where national security may be the equal of the economy, I would say yes.
"First of all, memories are going to last from those two horrific events, and second, unfortunately the world being what it is, you're probably going to have additional events between now and the election that will keep it fresh in people's minds."
But Trump "would benefit more from an emphasis on the economy," said Sabato, "although I think his tough posture appeals certainly to his base and they see him as an appropriate person to handle the issue."
The same holds true for several other candidates, though, said Sabato, including not only Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, but also New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and an argument could be made for Jeb Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
The poll also found that 44 to 34 percent of respondents said Republicans are better about dealing with terrorism, and Sabato said that's a traditional view.
"Whenever foreign policy has been a major issue in the campaign, Republicans have benefited from it and done well, with only one exception, 2008," he said. "In 2008 you had a situation with the Iraq war being unpopular and on account of that, the Democrats benefited but that was the exception that proved the rule."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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