RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Republican candidates running for president wasted no time engaging in some verbal sparring during Thursday night’s prime time debate.
But the big question now is, who resonated most with North Carolina voters?
With the primary in North Carolina coming up earlier this year, from May to March 15, all of the candidates have a lot of work to do.
Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said there were “lots of fireworks” in Thursday’s debate.
McLennan said those fireworks might get people interested early in the election process.
“It will be more pressure on North Carolina because we’re going to be a significant player in terms of the outcome of the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating process,” McLennan said.
That means earlier visits from candidates and earlier ads.
“I think Donald Trump would be a good president,” said Joseph Bynum.
“I’ve heard the Donald has made quite the splash,” said Cathe Evans.
“I love Donald Trump,” said Michael Goldstein, “ I think he just speaks the truth and tells it how it is.”
But Andrew Willis said, “I don’t understand why people are so impressed with Trump.”
Willis said he was more impressed by Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Rand Paul.
Trump stirred up more controversy Thursday when he said he declined to close the door on a third-party candidacy.
“I will not make the pledge at this time,” Trump said.
That could be significant as the race unfolds.
“If Donald Trump doesn’t get the nomination and follows through, that puts the election in a totally different light because he’s got his supporters,” McLennan said.
If the Republican nominee is still in question but the Democratic one is more certain, that likely could mean more Republicans turning out to the polls for the March primary.
And McLennan pointed out there is a school and transportation bond proposal that right now is likely headed for a vote at that same primary.
A poll by Public Policy Polling released July 8 had Trump getting 16 percent of the vote from North Carolinians, followed by 12 percent for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, 11 percent for Mike Huckabee, 9 percent for Carson and Marco Rubio, 7 percent for Paul, 6 percent for Ted Cruz and 5 percent for Chris Christie.