Time to get my political junkie on!
While I did not listen to either of the debates last night, I did stay up late reading various commentaries, opinions, and such not. In addition, I paid attention to various social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) where friends were commenting on the debates. So what you are going to see here is not a review of the debates, but a distillation of the debate about the debates.
Capisce? OK, let us proceed...
Keep in mind that I am a fundamentalist Christian, Tea Party sympathizing, conservative libertarian.(Yes, a Christian libertarian. Despite what you may think, the world views are quite compatible. Our motto: "If you like your handbasket, you can keep your handbasket!") The vast majority of my reading last night was from sources that aligned with me in one way or another: friends, fellow Christians, small-government Republicans, small-L libertarians and independents.
From what I was seeing, none of those folks were were looking at the debate and trying to decide who was the overall winner. They saw it as more of a chance to get a feel for who the candidates were and what they believed... which is also where I am at at this point in the process. In other words, think of it as more of a formal introduction to the field of candidates and less of a debate.
Out of all the commentaries, certain names kept on bubbling to the top of the list. Based on what I saw, the candidates who came out of the debates on the positive side were Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina. Yeah... just waiting to see how the MSM manages to paint support for a black surgeon, a Latino lawyer, and a female CEO as racist, sexist, and anti-intellectual.
Cruz was popular with the small government segment, which actually crosses a lot of political lines. Carson seemed to resonate with those who are tired of the same ol' same ol', "Whose turn is it now?" attitude from the GOP, and people seemed to be impressed with him as a person.
Fiorina? Very positive across the board. Lots of wondering why she was not included in the main debate. Yes, yes, I know - they based it on poll numbers. From what I was hearing, though, she managed a very broad appeal, and outside of the debates, she seems to be doing well in terms of making her mark on the field. Time will tell, but I think that given that time, she may end up included in the next round as a contender.
Walker got some good mentions, and also got lots of props for being the adult on stage: calm, even handed, slow to start but strong at the finish. Several commenters seemed to think that a smaller debate forum would have served him much better. Provided he makes it to the point where he can speak in that kind of environment, he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. I suspect that he is in the odd position of being the #2 pick for a lot of folks, which means that if he ends up getting the nomination, he would have a very large base.
It sounds like Rand Paul made a great case for himself - just not for President. Whoever eventually does get the nod should definitely consider him as a potential nominee for Attorney General. Rubio got some positive mentions, but seemed to be eclipsed by Cruz - of the two, people seemed to think that Cruz did a better, more forceful job of laying out the same positions.
Of the remainder - Bush, Huckabee, Christie and Kasich - none won any sort of accolades, and most folks, if they mentioned them at all, had negative comments about their performances and/or policy positions. I actually had to look up the list of participants to remind myself that Huckabee was in the debate, given how little mention he received. Christie apparently made a couple of comments that caused folks to have a strong "Thanks, but no thanks" reaction. Bush, in particular, got a lot of "Yeeeeeah, no" responses... though those seemed to come mainly from sources that already had an issue with him. Kasich did seem... acceptable... to most folks, in a bland sort of way. As in, if every other candidate dropped dead tomorrow, people would be willing to hold their noses and vote for him. Just not with any sort of enthusiasm, mind you.
Trump? Trump who? Heard lots of people talking about him, but not in a positive light. His ego and comments about his past interactions with politicians were pretty much the opposite of what folks were looking for. The whole "willing to run as a third party candidate" thing was, as far as I could tell, another nail in the coffin for him. Here's hoping.