Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s politics chat. The transcript below is lightly edited.
Maya (Maya Sweedler, senior editor): The first Republican debate last Wednesday featured eight candidates — none of whom was the front-runner. Former President Donald Trump elected to skip the debate, writing on his social media website that “The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had.”
In his absence, the other candidates … well, what did the other candidates do, and was it effective? Some of FiveThirtyEight’s crack team is here to discuss Trump’s decision, whether it was the right call for him and if he would be served well by making a similar one for the September debate.
Let’s start with what…