The fallout from first 2015 GOP debates pretty much as expected, although there were a few surprises. Ted Cruz made very modest gains in popularity among GOP voters. At the same time, overnight Carly Fiorina became something of a minor political rock star. Donald Trump’s support dipped ever so slightly among those who watched the debate, while it maintained a steady, slow upward arc overall among the uninformed public.
I had Scott Walker the clear winner of the first debate on substance. This is where presence and personality come in: I was judging the debate based upon the transcripts, and did not have access to the video. While I had expected that his low-key style would hurt him, I had not expected that his campaign would pretty much implode because of his debate performance.
The support Ben Carson has received since that debate was also a surprise. In truth, he barely had a chance to talk in the first debate, and the few policy statements he made sounded good in substance by sketchy when it came to the details. Of course, I was already somewhat familiar with Carson from his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, so he was pretty much a known quantity for me. Carson’s growing support appears to be coming from people who had never heard of him before, and were surprised by what they saw.
In the Reagan Library debate, Walker and Paul will have to find their footing, or they will essentially be out of the race. At the same time, all eyes will be on Fiorina, Carson, and Trump. How they do in this debate may well set the stage for the Iowa caucuses later on.