POLL: Who Won the GOP Debate Tonight?

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz revived their dispute over Cruz's eligibility in Thursday's debate. (Getty)

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz revived their dispute over Cruz’s eligibility in Thursday’s debate. (Getty)

Thursday’s GOP debate featured back-and-forth on several hot-button issues. Read on for a recap, then vote for tonight’s winner in the poll at the bottom of the post.

Immigration Reform

The immigration debate started with the foreign-born candidate: Ted Cruz went back and forth with Donald Trump about his eligibility for President, at one point even bringing up Trump’s mother:

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Gun Violence

All candidates on the stage denounced President Obama’s plan to introduce gun restrictions through executive action. Trump claimed that a more liberal gun buying environment would lead to “bullets going the other way” and a lower death toll.


Trump opened the trade debate by advocating a tariff against Chinese goods. Cruz disputed specifics of his point but agreed with the general idea.

Tax Reform

While Ben Carson advocated the flat consumption-based FairTax, Marco Rubio took issue with the VAT tax he claimed Cruz is proposing. Cruz disputed the idea that the tax in question was called a VAT, instead referring to it as a “business flat tax” and in turn denouncing Rubio’s top tax rate of 35 percent.

Criminal Justice

Christie said that a major component of America’s criminal justice issues is the President’s deference to criminals rather than police officers:

Rand Paul

Rand Paul’s disinclusion didn’t stop his supporters from making their voice heard at the debate:


While it’s impossible to know how a debate will affect polls this quickly, and it’s not really possible to declare a debate “winner” anyway, analyst Frank Lutz had the following impression from his focus groups:

However, chief sparring partners Marco Rubio and Donald Trump scored well with several points:

Not everyone did so well, with Lutz having harsh words for Bush:

Twitter’s Government & Elections team noted candidates’ Twitter growth during the debate:

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