Tonight’s Republican presidential debate included the eight top candidates based on recent polls. This time the debate was run by Fox Business News and the Wall Street Journal, focus was on the economy and taxes.
Once again, in our infinite ego, we have provided scores as to how we believe this debate will affect their poll ratings. This is not about our agreement or disagreement on the issues
The moderators were Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo from Fox Business News and Gerard Baker editor in chief of the Wallstreet Journal. These are established and knowledgeable personalities with no need for grandstanding, and no moderator tried to make a name by casting insults. The result was a much more fair and substantive debate and each candidate had a sufficient opportunity to answer.
Trump +3 – Donald Trump was able to reinforce his position and state his views completely in a Trump-like manner. His style is to talk in generalities, a style he can easily get away with, because of his business accomplishments (“I’ve done it before, I can do it again”).
Unlike the situation in the previous debate, the moderators provided substantive questions, without the innuendo. Trump was able to cover a number of his campaign points very effectively.
Trump’s diplomacy is improving, though he managed to “smoosh” (our word) Fiorina, after she continually interrupted other candidates.
We believe this debate presented Trump in the fashion that has been successful for him in his campaign. We believe this performance will help to maintain his position, and re-insert him as a “top of mind” serious candidate. We do think for Trump to surge again he needs a fresh batch of press, but Mr. Trump has never had a problem getting press.
Carson – 4 – Dr. Ben Carson made a number of small but well thought out speeches, but he did not have the oomph in his speeches that others had. His hallmark has been a quiet voice, but we believe he was too quiet. His spontaneous answers were not great in our opinion.
We have been predicting a drop in Carson’s numbers for a while, but it has not yet occurred. In terms of energy, he was last in the group, in terms of substance, 2nd or 3rd to last in our opinion.
We believe this debate will not help Dr. Carson, and others will start to move up at his expense. We look for his polls numbers to start to drift downwards.
Rubio +5 – Senator Marco Rubio once again showed his intelligence and attention to detail, he was eloquent and loquacious. Gone are the days when he can be rattled or made to look small.
Senator Rubio’s only bad moment was when he was accused by Rand Paul of not being very conservative. We thought it hit home for a brief period of time (though Rubio did not buckle). The audience likely realized he was talking about a new and vast spending program, but then again audiences have an extremely short attention span.
Overall, Marco had a great debate. His performance will solidify the choices of people who have just begun to support him, and certainly gather more. He could perhaps draw even with Carson, if Carson’s numbers start to drop. This is the first inkling we have had that Marco could actually succeed in winning the nomination.
Cruz +2 – Senator Ted Cruz was dynamic and made many good points during the debate, but is still the candidate for the ultra-conservative.
Cruz described his flat tax plan and named a number of government agencies he would shut down. While we decline to express our opinion as to whether it’s a good idea, we get the feeling this is a scary thing for a lot of voters, and will be a detriment to his poll numbers and his progress in the campaign.
Overall Cruz was well spoken and passionate, he will likely maintain if not slightly improve his poll numbers. We do not see a massive movement upwards at this point, but he will continue to hold his own.
Bush +2 – Governor Jeb Bush stood clearly with the front of the pack in substance and confidence, although we did not have the passion of Kasich, nor the eloquence of Rubio. He is still a contender.
We give him points in this case because he did well enough to maintain his campaign status. Governor Bush still needs a push to gain momentum in the race but it won’t be in a debate. If he cuts loose with his $100 million in PAC money he should be able to gain momentum.
Fiorina -5 – Carly Fiorina was eloquent, intelligent and well informed in her statements and had a good debate. But she needed a GREAT debate to help her campaign.
She seemed to be the only one to understand it was the government’s encouragement of bad mortgages that caused the 2008 recession.
Despite great performances in the previous debates with commensurate attention in the press, her campaign has not been up to the task of increasing her poll numbers. Her only move at this point is to fire her campaign manager and start over.
The newness and pluckiness of Ms. Fiorina have worn off. Since the debates seem to be her only source of national attention, we believe her campaign is done. She has had some great ideas, we hope she will be a part of someone else’s administration.
Rand Paul +1 – Senator Rand Paul is still a disruptive force in the debates, but he seemed a lot smoother about it this time, so we give him some credit.
He did manage to take a shot at Rubio that scored, and a shot at Donald Trump (China is not part of the trade agreement) that could have scored higher if it had been pressed. As we have said several times, we believe his campaign will not gain any momentum.
We gave him a point for the effort, but we still believe his campaign is effectively dead.
Kasich +4 – Governor John Kasich did an excellent job of distinguishing himself, he was argumentative, but he needed to be.
In light of his recent rise in the polls in New Hampshire (from 7 points to 10 points), Kasich has shown his campaign has some savvy, and we believe he has a good chance of rising in the polls and becoming a contender.
Chris Christie was relegated to the early debate with the others who had low polls ratings. We felt he had a good debate last time, but his campaign was unable to take advantage. So we believe he is done.
Our prediction for the next few weeks, Trump, Rubio, Carson, Kasich, Cruz, Bush, in that order, all still alive. No one else is relevant anymore.