Local watch parties draw big crowds thanks to Trump

Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, John Kasich
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland. Eleven top-tier Republican presidential hopefuls face off in their second prime-time debate of the 2016 campaign Sept. 16, in a clash between outsiders and establishment candidates under a cathedral of political conservatism. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Back in August, 24 million people watched the first GOP debate on TV, a new record. A big part of it was because of the admiration, the disgust and the puzzling nature of Donald Trump.

“There’s a hunger to learn more about this process, about the Presidential race. I feel like turnout is going to be high in 2016,” said Jay Root from the Texas Tribune. Root is a self described optimist who co-hosts the podcast, “the ticket,” with KUT’s Ben Philpott.

On Wednesday evening, a few hundred people came to a live taping and for a GOP watch party afterward. The hosts will be the first to tell you, a lot of the interest is because of Trump. He’s getting people interested, early. But is it too early?

“I think it’s possible there’s a lot more attention being paid to the debate. But I think it’s also a sign that we’re starting these way too early. Because there are people watching just for entertainment at this point. They aren’t actually paying that much attention. So this is something that would not have happened if we started this process in January,” said Jeff Frazier from Austin.

So will Donald Trump bring more people to the polls, or will he only be a short lived, guilty pleasure? We will find out in the weeks and months ahead.

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