It was a “draw” in some respects. This one did a little better than that one. No one had a “big moment."
Rubio’s performance was impressive but he still looks too young (to be totally superficial). Trump seems to have hit the wall in his “I win,” “people like me,” “I’m the best (fill in the blank)” mantra. And by the way, Carly, he didn’t even say he met Putin in the “60 Minutes” Green Room, he said that they both were in the same episode, which to Trump apparently passes for a meaningful relationship.
And Carson’s low-key personality just isn’t going to cut it in the minds of what folks view as their president, especially in this media focused (from TV to social media) society.
Bush looked stronger than he has. To me, though, it will serve as more of confidence builder for Bush as we now head into the more meaningful days of the primary campaign when his confidence level can translate into votes. Carly Fiorina had a good debate, two debates ago. She seems angry and who wants an angry president? We want someone who we think is better than we are. Someone with aspirations. Her aspiration seems to be beating Hillary Clinton, not leading the country.
There will be no more GOP debates for five weeks – smack in the middle of holiday season when folks have other things taking up their time and focus. Now is when the down and dirty of organization politics matter. Carson and Trump, despite what they may say, do not have organizations that can rival Bush or Cruz or Rubio. While Trump and Carson may lead the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, no votes have been cast yet and saying “I like him” to a pollster is different than casting your vote in public (in Iowa) or giving a candidate the major boost that New Hampshire always is. Will New Hampshire want to be known as the state that thrust Trump into the “OMG he is a real possibility” category? I don’t think so.
Jeb had to hang in until this point in the campaign when debates fade in the background and on-the-ground politicking takes over. He has the money and the experience and the organization where this should be his strong time in the campaign.
Trump’s visibility will go down – no more debates for a while and you can only host Saturday Night Live once in a campaign, and he bombed at that once. His act is getting boring. My guess is his Sunday show appearances start to decline, too. How many times can you say the same thing when you're running for president? So now he has to compete a bit in the area of policy – not a place he has shown any strength at all, except to say he’ll drive 11 million immigrants to the border and say, “see ya…but you can come back.” Such a policy!