Trump alters the way the rest of the field is perceived

Remember when the fear was that Ben Carson was too undisciplined and inexperienced to be the GOP standard-bearer? He comes across as a statesman next to Trump — and had a good night, with a particularly good answer on race and some good funny lines at the end. (“I’ve removed a half a brain; I could understand if you walk around Washington and feel like somebody beat me to it.”)

Remember when Ted Cruz was the bomb-thrower on the right? Now he’s the guy talking about his legislative work to punish sanctuary cities. He seemed to get lost in the shuffle at times tonight — but again, compared to the bombastic Trump, he comes across as serious and knowledgeable.

Remember when Chris Christie was going to be the loud, boisterous voice in this field? He showed flashes of that, and really went after Rand Paul on the Patriot Act and domestic surveillance. (“When you’re sitting in a subcommittee, you can blow hot air like that.”) The thing is, if this is a preeminent issue for you, you were probably already inclined to support either Paul’s or Christie’s position on it.