Last night's debate crowned a final four in the GOP primary

These in­tra­party skir­mishes will con­tin­ue in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses and New Hamp­shire primar­ies, and their res­ol­u­tion will de­term­ine who are the fi­nal two Re­pub­lic­ans stand­ing. Cruz’s be­lated de­cision to ham­mer Trump sug­gests that only one of the anti­es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ates will emerge from Feb­ru­ary’s South Car­o­lina primary with a clear shot at the nom­in­a­tion. And Ru­bio’s de­cision to fo­cus on Christie un­der­scores his cam­paign’s be­lief that he needs to con­sol­id­ate es­tab­lish­ment sup­port once and for all. Iowa will help settle the grass­roots fa­vor­ite, while New Hamp­shire will crown the es­tab­lish­ment lead­er.

All four can­did­ates demon­strated one thing in com­mon: an ur­gent tone that matched the pitched an­ger with­in the Re­pub­lic­an elect­or­ate. Ru­bio, most sig­ni­fic­antly, am­ped up his an­ger in talk­ing about IS­IS, Pres­id­ent Obama’s ex­ec­ut­ive or­der on guns, and Hil­lary’s Clin­ton’s qual­i­fic­a­tions for high­er of­fice. Christie’s pro­sec­utori­al ap­proach played well with the South Car­o­lina crowd, par­tic­u­larly his jibes at Obama as a dic­tat­or and petu­lant child. Cruz is a nat­ur­al per­former who opened the de­bate by chan­nel­ing deep an­ger among con­ser­vat­ives over Obama’s de­fense of Ir­an after the seizure of Amer­ic­an mil­it­ary per­son­nel. Trump was, well, Trump.