Analysis from ABC News Political Director Amy Walter:
Will Newt Get Challenged? A number of new polls out this week put the former House speaker on top of the GOP field. That has been a very dangerous place for a number of candidates coming into debate night. But Gingrich has some advantages. First, he’s a disciplined debater. Or, as he humbly told an audience the other day: “When you get to the debates, who do you want to debate Obama? I think people would agree I’m probably a better debater than my friends are.”
He loves to spar with the moderators and his withering contempt of the media has made him a huge hit among GOP faithful.
So, will any of his GOP colleagues try to land a punch on him? To take on Newt means you best be prepared for the comeback. Plus, one reason Gingrich has fared as well as he has in the debates thus far is because he’s stayed true to Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” Any candidate who violates that spirit is likely to feel backlash from GOP voters.
Can Cain Recover From His Libya Slip? A disastrous editorial board meeting in Milwaukee has dogged Cain for the past week. Tonight is his chance to prove he can do that commander-in-chief thing. Those close to the campaign say that he has been studying hard and, just as important, is well-rested.
Who Is the Audience? Coming on just ahead of Thanksgiving, most Americans are too busy worrying about catching a flight to grandma’s house than catching an 8 p.m. ET debate. Who will be watching? People who get paid to do so: the media and the punditocracy. This means that more than any other debate, voters will be getting their information about the debate second-hand. This makes those one-liners, flubs and flips even more important.