The Note: Debate Expectations


--TRUMP HITS A NEW HIGH: Donald Trump has reached a new high in support for the Republican presidential nomination in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, drawing on GOP support for his proposed ban on Muslims along with his powerful outsider credentials, ABC's GARY LANGER notes. Ben Carson's cratered, while Ted Cruz has advanced to join the double-digit club -- but with Trump now unrivaled for the lead. That said, Trump slightly trails Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup, by 6 percentage points among registered voters, expanding to 13 points among all adults. And a broad 69 percent of Americans express anxiety at the thought of Trump as president, with half saying it makes them "very" anxious. Clinton makes far fewer anxious, albeit 51 percent. Trump has 38 percent support for his party's nomination from Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who are registered to vote, up a slight 6 points from last month, entirely among men. He's added concerns about terrorism to his existing anti-immigrant, political outsider credentials -- all pressing items in his party, but less so outside of it.

--TODAY ON THE TRAIL -- CLINTON TO LAY OUT DOMESTIC TERRORISM STRATEGY: Just hours before the GOP debate, Hillary Clinton today will lay out her strategy for counterterrorism during remarks on the campus at the University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, according to campaign aides. In the remarks, Clinton will announce ways to combat domestic radicalization and more foreign-inspired attacks here at home, ABC's LIZ KREUTZ notes. The release of the plan comes nearly one month after Clinton delivered a speech at the Center on Foreign Relations in New York City, where she laid out a broader strategy to defeat and destroy ISIS - including a call for social media companies in Silicon Valley to play a larger role combating the terrorist group online.


--POLLS SUGGEST TRUMP WILL WIN BETWEEN 8 PERCENT AND 64 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. FiveThirtyEight's HARRY ENTEN reports: An analysis of past campaigns and Donald Trump's current polls suggests that 95 percent of the time, Trump's eventual percentage of the national primary vote will be between 8 percent and 64 percent. And there's reason to think Trump will end up on the lower end of that range.

--IOWA ISN'T THE STATE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES PRETEND IT IS. FiveThirtyEight's DANIEL LATHROP reports: In February, Iowans will cast the first votes of the presidential nominating process, just as they have for 44 years. Over that time, reams of paper and pixels have been spent on the question of whether a racially homogenous and basically agricultural state should have such a prominent role.2 But the state is not exactly the bucolic land of yeoman farmers that candidates, critics and Iowans themselves think it is.



HILLARY CLINTON CALLS OUT TRUMP AND RUBIO ON IMMIGRATION. Hillary Clinton took aim Monday night at the immigration policies of her Republican counterparts in the 2016 race, taking a swipe at Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio for their stances. Clinton made the remarks at the National Immigration Integration Conference where she laid out specific steps to her immigration plan, aimed at providing undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship, ABC's MATTHEW CLAIBORNE writes. "You see I disagree with those who say make America great," said Clinton, referring to Trump's campaign slogan. "We are great and we' re going to stay great, and we' re going to get greater."

POLLS SHOW CLINTON LEADING TRUMP, BUT IN A TIGHT RACE WITH RUBIO, CARSON. In a hypothetical general election matchup, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton would beat businessman Donald Trump, according to NBC-Wall Street Journal poll results released Monday. But that same poll puts the former secretary of state in a tight race with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. If the general election were held today, Clinton would have 50 percent of support, 10 points over Trump. The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton stands neck and neck with Rubio, Cruz and Carson. ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI notes the margin of error for this poll was 3.36 percentage points. The NBC-Wall Street Journal was conducted Dec. 6-9 in the wake of Trump's policy on banning Muslims from entering the United States.

SANDERS PULLS NEGATIVE WEB AD ON CLINTON. Throughout his improbable run for the White House, Bernie Sanders has boasted that he "has never run a negative ad." That seemed to change over the weekend, when a Washington Post report noted a new digital advertisement from the Sanders campaign, portraying Hillary Clinton as a candidate funded by banks and "other big money interests." Within hours of initial reports, the ad had been taken down. Speaking exclusively to ABC News, Sanders insisted he has stuck to his "no attack ad" pledge - though he limited his language to television ads, ABC's BRAD MIELKE reports.


TRUMP WOULD BE 'HEALTHIEST INDIVIDUAL EVER ELECTED' PRESIDENT, HIS DOCTOR SAYS. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is in excellent health, so good in fact that his doctor said he "can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." In the one page statement, Dr. Harold Borstein, Trump's doctor since 1980, says the GOP frontrunner has lost 15 pounds over the last few months, takes a daily aspirin and "a low dose of statin." Trump also "no history ever" of consuming any alcohol or tobacco products. ABC's JOHN SANTUCCI reports the Trump campaign says the letter is all that will be released - and that there will be no full medical report. Trump had previous promised a full health report.


@pivit: All About Trump: An In-Depth Look at the Mogul's Prediction Markets …

@JRubinBlogger: If you say your campaign is not in trouble, it is in trouble …

@tedcruz: Getting ready for the debate tomorrow. Needed some inspiration: … #Maniac #TommyBoy

@GarrettHaake: "Im hoping for a presidential candidate who can carry purple states; who can actually get elected." @SenateMajLdr #playbookbreakfast

@TexasTribAbby: It's official: Neither Jim Gilmore nor George Pataki made the Texas primary ballot, per Texas GOP