We'll never know if the debate hurt Rubio

Because the Iowa caucuses were held Monday night and generally three days of polling are needed to get a large enough sample size, the earliest a pollster could have had a poll out reflecting the Iowa results was on Friday. But even then, the race was affected by campaigning in New Hampshire, Donald Trump’s decision to claim that Sen. Ted Cruz stole Iowa, then to move on, and other stories.

That means that going into the debate, it was difficult to know where the race was, and there won’t be enough days of polling after the debate to gauge how it may have affected the outcome. We’ll really have no idea where the race is when voters head to the polls.

Looking at the data we do have, the best we can say is that polling suggests Trump is well ahead, and there’s some sort of traffic jam in the middle with Cruz, Rubio, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson bring up the rear.