The Lid: What Four GOP Debates Have Taught Us

by Andrew Rafferty /  / Updated 
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is seen during an interview in the spin room following the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by Fox Business and The Wall Street Journal November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. JOSHUA LOTT / AFP - Getty Images

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Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… After improving his performance during last night’s debate, Jeb Bush confidently told top donors Wednesday that he has canceled his welding classes for next semester.

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With four Republican presidential debates in the books, here’s a look at what ranking the winners and losers (as judged by NBC News’ Political Unit) has taught us:

Losers are Winning: We have not called Donald Trump or Ben Carson “winners” after any of the debates, instead ranking them among the losers in two and “meh” in two. That makes them among the worst debaters in the GOP field. Yet they continue to dominate the polls.

It’s How Hard You Fall and How High You Fly: Neither Carson nor Trump has had a disastrous debate. That is not true for Jeb Bush, whose performance at the CNBC debate last month thrust his campaign into panic mode. Conversely, Carly Fiorina had a very strong night at the CNN debate in September which led to a bump in the polls and strong fundraising numbers. Candidates have needed to either soar or slump to new lows in the debates to have an immediate impact.

Rubio’s Four-Peat: The only candidate we’ve called a winner in ALL FOUR of the debates is Marco Rubio.



Philosophers and welders react to Marco Rubio’s comments during last night’s debate, per the New York Times.

Last night’s debate saw a slight ratings drop from the CNBC debate with 13.5 million viewers.

TRUMP: On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” he vowed that his proposed deportations of undocumented immigrants would be humane.


“I am not going to win the philosophy vote in America. I’m going to find another major to pick on soon.”

  • Marco Rubio on Wednesday after repeating his claim that there is a better job market for welders than for philosophers.


Ted Cruz files for the New Hampshire primary. Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich also make steps in the Granite State.

Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina Chris Christie, and Rand Paul are in Iowa.

Marco Rubio is in South Carolina.

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