538 Blog: Polls Defy Pundits, Show Rand, Carson Gaining, Kasich Holding Steady

Over at Nate Silver’s 538 blog, there is a fascinating aggregation of recent polls. It brings together seven different polls showing the movement of the 17 GOP candidates since the first debate last Thursday – with pundit-defying results.

Ted Cruz’s changes in polling numbers are schizophrenic across all seven polls, ranging from a gain of 7 to a loss of 3 points. In the end, he showed a slight gain of 1.4%, in spite of being asked few questions.

Rand Paul, thought to have lost ground after the debate, has actually gained some. Though some commentators expected him to be dirtied by his one-on-one engagements, it seems the average respondent was glad to see him land an early blow on Donald Trump and emphasize the Fourth Amendment in an exchange with Chris Christie.

John Kasich was thought by many pundits to be one of the winners on Thursday night. 538’s aggregation shows him in exactly the same place he was before the debate. Chris Christie, thought by some to be the big loser in the debate, barely nudged.

Ben Carson, who was seen by many insiders to appear unprepared and naïve on policy, came in with the third biggest gains at 2.4%, reflecting not the professional opinion, but the social media anecdotal consensus.

The biggest losers, according to 538, were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Bush was a bit distant and didn’t really alleviate any concerns of his critics, so his drop is no surprise. Walker did not put in a bad debate, but was probably the candidate of whom expectations were highest and he certainly did not meet them.

One result that was of no surprise to anyone: Carly Fiorina gained the most ground by a large margin, moving up 6 points on average. The near universal consensus, reflected by our own straw polling, is that Carly won the pre-debate forum, probably the whole evening and should have been on the top-10 stage.

Marco Rubio’s results too actually reflected the general consensus that he did himself a favor with a solid performance. He moved up 2.4%.

Finally, Donald Trump was another big loser after his scuffles with other candidates and moderator Megyn Kelly, even though he spoke the most during the entire debate.