Beyond the sparkling beaches and the swaying palm trees of Miami, the 2024 Republican US presidential candidates are set to once again take the debate stage.
This Wednesday, Nov. 8, the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami, alongside NBC, is set to be the new boxing ring for the candidates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will battle for America’s support in the presidential primary election.
With the upcoming debate, according to second-year student and political science major Isabela Bobe, this is an opportunity for the Republican candidates to elaborate further on some of their most controversial policies, especially for young voters watching.
“Candidates go into greater depth about their plans and opinions on policy issues, giving young voters who watch the debate, even on social media, the opportunity to form their own opinions,” said Bobe. “We can start to see which one(s) appeals to them and their beliefs the most.”
These debates not only inform people who to vote for, but as of recently, have often caused candidates to lose support. In the most extreme situations, candidates’ performance in the GOP debate is at stake.
Gregory Koger, a professor of political science at the University of Miami, doubts that the 30% of Americans who are registered Republicans will all watch the debate. He does believe, however, that debates influence who gets greater exposure in the media.
“While the debate itself has a pretty limited audience, I think the debate indirectly affects who rises up or falls in the primaries,” he said.
Perhaps most notable about this debate is its location in the 305, a city well-known for its unique political climate. Typically classified as a swing district since 1992, Miami-Dade County has begun to trend in the Republican direction in recent years.
With a large Latino population, the Miami debate will likely delve into discussions on immigration policy. Koger especially wonders how candidates will appeal to Latino voters while in Miami.
“They represent a potential growth for the Republican Party, but it would take a certain message and certain policies to accomplish that,” Koger said.
Additionally, Koger expects the candidates to be asked about Trump, who has been noticeably absent at each of the presidential debates despite being the frontrunner for the party’s nomination. The former president is refusing to participate in the debate and instead will be holding a rally in Hialeah the same night, just 7 miles from UM.
In prior debates, the 2024 GOP candidates have been hesitant to criticize the former president. But given that Trump is facing one civil trial and three criminal trials, he presents a great opportunity for his competition to stand up for law and order.However, these debates have often failed to attract young voters; a huge lost opportunity, according to Bobe.
“Debates should include issues that directly impact younger voters like student loans, job opportunities, health care, and abortion,” Bobe said. “Even the moderators don’t resonate with younger audiences, and they should probably diversify this to grab our generation’s attention.”
Bobe also mentioned that surprisingly, she has heard no discussion of the upcoming debate among other students despite its proximity to her University.
For those interested in watching the upcoming debate, the political science department encourages students to join the debate watch party hosted by the Hanley Democracy Center on Nov. 8 in suite 110 of the Campos Sano building on campus.