The Real Winner of Last Week’s GOP Debate Night

AUGUST 12, 2015

Carly 2

Over the weekend, political pundits were tying themselves up in knots waiting for the poll fallout from Thursday night’s pair of GOP debates.  Will Trump’s comments on women cause his numbers to plummet?  (A little, but he’s still way ahead.)  Will Marco Rubio’s performance get him back into the top tier?  (It’s looking good.)  Will John Kasich’s debate help to get him out of 10th place?  (Very probably.)  But if you’re looking for the real winner of Thursday night, I suggest you look elsewhere.

The real winner on Thursday night was Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina was relegated to the kids’ table telecast since her pre-debate hovered between 1% and 2% support.  Yet she owned her stage more than any candidate at the main event.  She was substantive yet not afraid to go on the attack.  Unlike any of her rivals at the kids’ table, she was even ready to go after Donald Trump and his pre-announcement phone call from Bill Clinton:

“I didn’t get a phone call from Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race. Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t given money to the foundation, or donated to his wife’s Senate campaign.”

After the debate, polling by NBC/SurveyMonkey found that voters declared her the clear winner of both debates at 22%, followed by Donald Trump at 18%.  In addition, if you subtract a candidate’s negative rating for debate performance from his positive, Fiorina was up 20 points, while Trump scored negative 11.

Most significantly, Fiorina, who had been hovering between 12th & 13th place among the GOP contenders before the debate, suddenly finds herself in the top tier.  The latest Rasmussen poll finds that Fiorina has zoomed up to a tie with Scott Walker for 4th place.  A New Hampshire poll finds Fiorina moving up to 5th place, and she also is up to 5th in the most recent Suffolk University poll of Iowa voters.

It looks like Carly Fiorina will no longer have a seat at the kids’ table.