- - Monday, January 25, 2016

Five months into presidential campaign debate season, one thing is clear: The Republicans are cleaning the Democrats’ clock when it comes to debate viewership.

According to the Nielsen television ratings, the GOP presidential debates are far outpacing the Democrats’ presidential debates in terms of viewership. Over six debates, the Republicans attracted a total of 105.5 million viewers – or, an average of 17.6 million viewers per debate. The Democrats, who have thus far only held four debates, have attracted a total of 41.8 million viewers – or a paltry 10.5 million viewers, on average, for each debate.

So what accounts for the considerable difference in audience sizes? Some would attribute the difference to the GOP debates’ main attraction: Donald Trump. His on-stage presence most certainly has driven up viewership, just as the Democratic National Committee’s decision to hold three of the four debates on weekend evenings most likely led to decreased viewership for those debates.

But beyond those factors, it’s entirely possible that something much larger is at play behind those numbers. While the Republican debates have showcased serious and significant policy disagreements among the candidates (consider Donald Trump vs. Jeb Bush on immigration, or John Kasich vs. Ted Cruz on Medicaid expansion, to name only a few areas of major contention among the GOP candidates), the Democratic debates have proven that the Democratic Party is in lockstep agreement on almost every major issues. The Democratic presidential candidates wholeheartedly embrace President Obama’s agenda – and in many cases, want to double down on it.

Take health care, for example. Nearly six years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, a Gallup poll finds that Americans, by a 52 percent to 44 percent margin, still oppose the law. But the three Democratic candidates, apparently unfazed by Americans’ opposition, praise the law on stage and vow to retain the unpopular law. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described Socialist, has even gone one step further and advocated for “Medicare for all,” which would be an even more extreme version of Obamacare.

On taxes and fiscal policy, again, the Democratic candidates largely agree. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both agree on stage that taxes should be raised on the wealthy, although they are vague about the specifics. Who, exactly, counts as “wealthy” these days? Tea Party Patriots has conducted multiple national polls, and our results show that 60% of Americans want tax reform that will produce a fairer tax code with a flat percentage for all taxpayers.

Putting aside what the candidates actually say on the debate stage, one of the most revealing aspects of their debates is what is being left unsaid. In contrast to the GOP debates, where foreign policy has been a key topic, not one of the Democrats last Sunday mentioned fighting global terrorism or anything remotely close to a foreign policy issue when asked to list their top three priorities. An odd omission, especially in light of a December Gallup poll that shows 67 percent of Americans believe a terrorist attack on the United States is likely within the next several weeks.

President Obama’s legacy includes a weak economy, a disastrous health care law, and numerous foreign policy failures that will have dire consequences in the years to come. Rather than address how they will correct any of the President’s failures, the Democratic candidates take the easy route - they simply ignore the President’s record of failure, and instead pledge to continue his policies.
The Democrats’ latest debate reveals a serious problem for the Left: In pursuing ideological purity, the Party has turned a deaf ear to the wishes of American voters. A paltry 30 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, but you’d never know it based on the utopic discussions on the Democrats’ stage.

As unified as the Democratic presidential candidates are on each of the major policy issues, they are completely out of sync with the American public. And that likely will not end well for the Democrats come November.
Considering that the Democratic debates have devolved into friendly forums for the candidates to recite their party’s orthodoxy, Americans can be forgiven for not tuning in to watch.

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