Adam Tiouririne is a regular contributor for Bloomberg Politics.
There was no empty podium at Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, yet there might as well have been considering the “elephant not in the room,” as Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly put it: billionaire Donald Trump.
By skipping the debate and hosting a rival event, Trump drastically changed the feel and substance of the final GOP face-off before the Iowa caucuses on Monday.
Without Trump, the stage was missing the debater who, according to data collected by Bloomberg Politics, has been the most camera-hogging, crowd-pleasing, self-referencing and plain-speaking. The average grade level for last night’s debate—a measure of the sophistication of candidates’ language—ticked up slightly to 7.4 from 7.2 across the previous six events. It was also a considerably less combative evening, with the number of inter-candidate attacks falling to 15 from 27 in the previous debate.
More analysis on the “Trump-less Debate” is available in the full article online at BloombergPolitics.com.