The consensus is that Carly Fiorina turned in the best performance of the pre-debate forum Thursday evening that featured the seven candidates who didn’t make the top ten.
According to our own Instant Debate Feedback online straw poll, Carly was leaps and bounds above the competition, with 92% saying that she deserved to be in the Top-10 prime-time debate. Although it is not a scientifically-balanced poll, the numbers are so overwhelming as to give a clear indication that she made the greatest impression.
Though it appears arbitrary and even unjust in the eyes of many observers that Fiorina was left out of the top ten, she showed up determined to take advantage of the platform. Prepared, focused, substantive and professional, she took the opportunity to stand head and shoulders above the other six candidates. (You can watch her highlights from the debate here.)
By comparison, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum were only decent, not great, Rick Perry was too hung up on Donald Trump’s lack of immigration experience next to his own, Lindsay Graham was robotic and George Pataki and Jim Gilmore showed us all why no one knows who they are with their entirely unmemorable contributions to the forum.
Many analysts have noted that the lower-polling candidates in the top ten turned in good performances in the prime-time debate, while it was the top-polling candidates who disappointed. This could make for a shuffling of the top ten in future polls, rather than switching out some of the candidates at the bottom with some of the seven from the so-called “happy-hour” debate.
Still, Fiorina, like Perry, was within the margin of error from making the top ten before Thursday night. Even a slight bump from her very solid performance could be enough to push her into the top ten.
In that sense, she may end up the biggest winner of all seventeen candidates in race last night.