It was Donald Trump’s best debate, though his China tariff answer was a hot mess and Cruz had the better of him on the birther nonsense. But it was also Ted Cruz’s best debate, even though Marco Rubio’s jabs left a lot of marks, and Cruz lost on the New York values exchange (and given that the media is so New York obsessed, that will get outsized coverage tomorrow). It was Marco Rubio’s best debate, but he sounded too desperate at times. Substantively, it was Jeb’s best debate, but it may just be too late. Also, his body language is still poor. It was Christie’s second-best debate. I can’t remember if it was Kasich’s best, but he did a very good job of not being filled with anger like last time. Ben Carson seemed like he was resigned to the fact it’s all pretty much over.
Obviously, I have my agreements and disagreements with everybody on the stage, but as a political matter I’m not sure any trend lines will change appreciably because of tonight. A lot depends on which clips and exchanges become the basis of TV chatter over the next few days. But one thing is clear, any hopes of destroying Trump on a debate stage are now dead.