I was pleased with last night’s debate. When all was said and done, I was happy to see my fellow primary voters hacking away at each other over who “won,” who was “the most presidential,” and who did and did not belong on the main stage.

This means progress, people.

That being said, I saw a lot of chatter about the respective performances of our current frontrunners. Depending on who you talk to, Ben Carson either flopped like a dying fish, or won the nomination by acclamation; Trump’s performance fielded similar sentiment—was he presidential? Presidon’tial? Too quiet? Just right? Did he stagnate, or further encourage and solidify his substantial supporter base?

Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have received truckloads of praise for their performances. Both men have a solid base and rising stars—but will they rise fast enough over the next month to punch through to the top? Carly Foirina is fielding a similar, positive reaction, but enthusiasm is still not on par with that displayed for Cruz or Rubio. Still, there’s room to grow, and she proved last night that she’s willing to dive into the deep end.

And then there’s Rand Paul. Paul snuck back into the national conversation like a bespoke ninja with his arguments concerning the military and defense funding. Some outlets declared him the winner, while most gave him a substantial pat on the back for stepping into the spotlight and tussling with both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio over foreign policy. Could it make a difference? Maybe. At least we know he has a pulse.

Jeb Bush fielded similar comments over the apparent reboot of his interest in actually running for President. He was definitely more engaged, and will—for better or for worse—be fielding more media attention in the coming weeks. Tensions between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have garnered a substantial amount of ink. A Vine posted by CNN Politics after the debate purports to show Bush snubbing Rubio onstage, and has since gone (breathlessly) viral:

Both men have since dismissed the media’s hot takes on what happened here, but the spotlight is already there.

Speaking of “already there”…is anybody there for Kasich right now? Looking at you, commenters.

That leaves the undercard debaters—have any of them earned the highest honor? Or, should they fade into the night?

Let’s hear it—all things considered, who do you want to win the nomination? In the interest of indecision, we’ll let you pick two!


We’ll keep the poll open until midnight Pacific time on Friday night, November 13.

Follow Amy on Twitter @ThatAmyMiller