Analysis of the First Fox GOP Presidential Debate

Analysis of the First Fox GOP Presidential Debate

This was an unusual debate for three reasons.

#1) Fox did a terrible job of running the debate. They spent at least half their time trying to bait the candidates into fighting each other. They were like little kids in a school yard, “Oooh, he said that about you! You gonna take that? Why don’t you tell him what you think about him!” Eventually, they prodded Rand Paul and Chris Christie into screaming at each other.


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#2) Fox also pretty clearly hates Donald Trump and it came across in the way they ran the debate. They started off with a question to the group that was clearly aimed at him (Will everybody here commit to voting for the nominee?) and they followed it up with hostile question after question.

Between that and the petty baiting of the candidates, Fox did a poor job of running the debate.

#3) The quality level of the candidates was so much higher than 2012.

Other than Jeb Bush (who was horrible) and Rand Paul who got into a screaming match with Christie and got squashed by Trump, everybody was pretty good.

Trump did what he does. He had lots of good lines, but he has weaknesses. He has lots of liberal positions in his past and he’s never been great at getting into details. I doubt if he did anything to hurt himself with people who were already familiar with him. More casual fans may have a different reaction. Personally, I enjoyed Trump’s performance a lot, but it’s really hard to know how it will play out.

Ted Cruz sounded pretty good, but at times it seemed like Fox just wouldn’t ask him any questions.

Ben Carson came across as extremely measured and likable.

Scott Walker wasn’t solid, but not spectacular. There were so many other quality debaters that he got lost in the shuffle a bit.

John Kasich came across fairly well, although he faded a bit at the end.

Marco Rubio was good. He came across very well.

Rand Paul had his moments, but he came across as thin skinned. He just didn’t come across well.

Jeb was the worst guy on the stage. He’s to the left of most of the field and he has no charisma.

Chris Christie sounded good overall, but his screaming match with Rand (which he won) still won’t come across well. Unsurprisingly, Mike Huckabee sounded good. Whatever flaws he may have, a lack of charisma is not among them.

So, losers? Jeb Bush and Rand Paul (and it pains me to say that because I do like Rand).

Winners? That’s much harder to say. The whole field was just so consistently good and as with so many things regarding Trump, it’s really hard to tell how people are going to react. I thought Trump had the best performance on the stage and I think a lot of his fans will see it the same way, but how will his more casual fans react to it? He didn’t agree to support the GOP nominee. He used to back some liberal positions. These are things they may be finding out for the first time. It’s hard to say what the reaction will be.

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