Our focus group declared Ted Cruz the winner of the December 15 Republican Debate. We asked members of our focus group for insights into their decision making process. Here’s a selection of their responses:
Ted really showed that he is a leader. He was focused, concise and convincing. He has detailed plans and policies that he can articulate to the people. And he zinged Trump about paying for the wall. That was great! Trump was more foolish than ever. Carson faded. Rubio stumbled on immigration. How will he overcome his Gang of 8 association? And Jeb who?
Cruz built on the momentum he’s had on the campaign trail with a solid performance. He was much more of a presence in this debate than in the previous ones, and he hit the right notes on the issues. He also got the better of Rubio in their exchange about immigration.
I think a lot of the sort of micro-exchanges cut a lot of different ways, “This person won this one, that person won that one.” But I don’t think any of them were searing or memorable, so stepping back from the micro-exchanges a bit, I think it comes down to the impression that the candidates left with viewers and Marco came across well early and more in style and in tone, I think he came across as he hoped to and that will resonate well with the people he is going after. And I think Cruz basically has done what he wanted as well – drawing distinctions with Marco and coming across as strong and tough.
Christie came out swinging and showed himself to be the adult in the room. He did not engage in the pettiness some of the other candidates did.
Rubio was attacked from all sides, by Rand on national security and by Cruz on immigration. He’s one of the most gifted politicians of his generation, but he lost his step a bit under that much bombardment. Also, given how well he performed in the last debates, the bar was just that much higher for him. Despite all that, I’d still say he came in a solid second behind Cruz, but there was no question that he was second.
I find Fiorina’s personal story compelling. She is not shy about making her voice heard.
Rand Paul hit Trump hard on the Internet. He also landed a few decent blows on Rubio.
Thanks again to our focus group for their help!