Overnight online survey on who won the debate: Fiorina 30.3%, Trump 22.6%, Carson 11.6%

Something to tide you over while we breathlessly await the first data from a major pollster about the new state of the race. Trump won the Drudge poll last night going away but the IJ Review relied on Google Consumer Surveys, which has its issues but attempts, I believe, to produce a scientifically valid outcome. Result: As pretty much everyone apart from Trump’s own fans thought, Fiorina won. She’ll certainly be in double digits in national polling next week and might even bypass Carson as the new number two. Her strength in the overnight poll, per the IJR, was with women. Men split nearly evenly between her (27.8 percent) and Trump (27.3 percent) on who won, but it was no contest with women — 33.3 percent said Carly versus just 16.8 percent who said Trump. Maybe that was due to her sterling answer on Planned Parenthood or maybe it was due to her putting the alpha male in his place on the whole “face” dust-up, but note that the gap here isn’t a matter of Fiorina having polled much better with women than she did with men. It’s more a matter of Trump having polled much worse with women, more than a 10-point drop-off from his numbers among males. Keep that in mind over the next week or two. If he starts to fall back a bit in his polling, it may be because women in particular are starting to sour on him.

Then again:


He’s been dancing on landmines for three months and has not only survived but prospered. Why wouldn’t getting owned by Fiorina and then disappearing during the policy parts of the debate paradoxically add to his lead?

Here’s another useful bit of data from the IJR. This isn’t scientific, obviously, but it demonstrates nicely why Fiorina’s going to be moving in the polls. The point of these early debates is to make an impression on voters who are just starting to pay attention to the race, right? Well, mission accomplished:

A Fiorina surge would be more dangerous to the rest of the field than a Carson surge because there’s no reason to think she won’t continue to have excellent substantive debates. Carson tends to disappear at these things and his policy proposals seem like afterthoughts vis-a-vis his persona. If you’re backing him, it’s because you believe in the man and what he represents as a healer and a political outsider, not because you’re excited about his immigration proposals or whatever. Fiorina knows the issues, she’s unflappable, and she’s better than the boys are at taking Trump down a peg. Her weakness is her record at HP, but she was prepared for that last night and Republican voters have proved themselves willing to nominate a CEO whose business was responsible for many layoffs. Besides, the guy who’s ahead of her in the polls is a billionaire whose catchphrase is “you’re fired.” He’s the last person who’s going to try to Romney-fy Fiorina in the debates. I don’t think she’ll be the nominee, but that feeling owes more to simple tradition — people who haven’t held office before don’t win presidential primaries — than to any reasoned “here’s why Carly can’t win” argument. Of the three outsiders in the field, she’s easily the one the donor class would be most comfortable with as nominee. If people like Walker and Christie and even Jeb start to fall away, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fiorina pick up some of their money (although most of it will go to Rubio).

So good was she last night that she even aced the dopey question about which woman should replace Alexander Hamilton with on the $10 bill. The men in the field, eager not to alienate women voters, all offered ideas. Fiorina, not facing the same pressure, told the moderators that Hamilton should be left alone. Correct. Exit question: Did I hallucinate this or did Jeb Bush suggest putting Margaret Thatcher on the ten spot? I knew he was pro-immigration, but putting non-citizens on the currency? Get a hold of yourself, man.

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