GOP candidates debate bitterly Thursday ahead of Super Tuesday - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

GOP candidates debate bitterly Thursday ahead of Super Tuesday

Political experts go over Thursday's GOP debate ahead of Super Tuesday. (Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Political experts go over Thursday's GOP debate ahead of Super Tuesday. (Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Thursday night’s debate was the tenth and final GOP debate before Super Tuesday. Monday, the votes will count in 13 different states with more than 500 delegates up for grabs.

On the debate stage, political experts noticed a lot of the attention was on the top three candidates: Donald Trump; Sen. Ted Cruz; Sen. Marco Rubio.

Kaitlin Sidorsky, an associate professor of politics at Coastal Carolina University, said it was Rubio who seemed to be the quickest on his feet, saying all of the right things at the right times and on the right topics

“I see him repeat himself every night. He says five things, everyone's dumb, he's going to make America great again, we're going to win, win, win. He's winning in the polls, and the lines around the states... every night,” Rubio said.

Now, the question remains; will it be enough?

“Super Tuesday is coming up fast and furious, and he's obviously doing something right - Trump - and it’s not changing. This should have probably happened a long time ago, and if only they had done this a long time ago, would Trump really be in the position he is now,” Sidorsky said.

Rubio threw harder punches than ever in the most recent GOP Debate and continued to hit Trump hard in Friday rallies.

“They needed to switch, they needed to switch because a lot of people have been pushing Cruz and Rubio to take more of a stand, be a bit harsher and don't just take the punches but, you know, give them out,” Sidorsky explained.

Sidorsky said Trump is starting to defend himself but isn't blowing up in a way most Americans feel can be a turn-off.

However, Sidorsky added that primary voters tend to be incredibly partisan, or, "they tend to know their issues and positions and it's pretty clear who they are going to vote for.”

Though she predicts Kasich, and Carson will drop out soon after Super Tuesday, Sidorsky said the number of Republican candidates, especially within the top three, could be what's solidifying Trump as the frontrunner.

“You’re just forcing the voters to split in a way that maybe they wouldn't do normally if they just had Trump and Cruz, or Trump and Rubio,” she said.

At the same time, it's all about timing. Sidorsky said a clear nomination too early could hurt both parties.

“Momentum is just as important in the primary season as it is in the general election. You don't want too much of a space between the primary and the general election because you still want to be the focus,  still be seen as the winner,” she said.

WMBF News will have full coverage of the Democratic Presidential Primary starting Saturday at 7 a.m.  

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