Will Candidates Rise Or Fall As 2016 Race Pivots To Terrorism, Foreign Policy?

Democratic presidential candidates detailed their plans for combating ISIS Thursday as the focus of the 2016 campaign shifts to national security and foreign policy in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week.

If voters remain interested in terrorism and national security as a top campaign issue, it could reshape a race that has largely focused on domestic and economic issues so far. How big of a change it will be depends on whether additional attacks occur and which candidates adjust their message most effectively.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, some pundits and party insiders suggested that Republican voters would reconsider their support for Donald Trump and Ben Carson, politically inexperienced outsiders who have not displayed a strong grasp of foreign policy issues in debates and interviews.

Political strategists and experts expect it will take a bit more time for the true effects of the Paris attacks on the American electorate to become clear.

"Trump is a unique animal. In his case, it's not yet hurting him," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

Carson's numbers have slipped slightly from the point where he was beating Trump in some polls last month. Although it is hard to pin that on a specific reason, doubts have been raised about Carson's foreign policy knowledge this week by pundits, rivals, and one of his own advisers.

"This is something that you honestly have to be thinking about and talking about for several years...It's very hard to close that learning curve," O'Connell said.

Read more from Stephen Loiaconi at Sinclair Broadcast Group

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Analysis & Political Strategy