So Donald Trump has announced he will not take part in tonight's Fox News Republican Debate because of the ongoing feud between himself and Megyn Kelly.  Trump predicts viewership will plummet without him.  He's right, to a degree.  The numbers will likely go down, but Fox can still expect a strong showing. As much as Donald Trump may like you to believe it's all about him, believe me, it isn't.

After all, Sen. Ted Cruz, the number two man in this hot mess, has a following of his own.  Sen. Marco Rubio, clinging to the number three spot, just might take the opportunity to go a bit sideways on Cruz, thus stealing a bit of the Donald's thunder.  And let's be honest, plenty of guys out there will tune in because of Megyn Kelly. Plenty of Republicans and Conservatives (the terms are not synonymous) are struggling with which of these three men can best lead the way in November.

Will Trumps refusal to take part hurt him?  Not at all.  If anything, it will force the media to talk about him even more and that is very much a part of the Trump strategy.  This just might be a carefully orchestrated distraction ahead of the Iowa Caucus.  If Trump can widen the gulf between Conservative and establishment Republicans, his chances might actually improve.

The middle-of-the-road (aka moderate Democrat) crowd will flock to him or to the Democratic front runner (out of fear, not trust).  The solid Republican establishment types are already in the Rubio camp, mainly because their boy Jeb Bush is basically a dead horse at this point.  Die-hard conservatives and moderate converts see Cruz and Trump as the only viable candidates. But if Trump kicks much harder, he'll drive a sizable number of them straight into the arms of Ted Cruz.

In short, it's a helluva mess we've got here.  See the debate on Fox News Channel or watch it live right here beginning at 9 pm eastern / 8 pm central!