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4th GOP Debate Power Rankings

by Christopher N. Malagisi

Candidates 3

Last night was the fourth GOP debate of the 2016 Republican presidential primary.  With only eight candidates participating in this primetime debate, candidates had much more time to make their case, especially about the economy – the focus of the debate held on the Fox Business Channel.

Read our Power Rankings below to find out who won, who lost, and who’s making headlines today!  Candidates may be ranked from 0 to +10.

Marco Rubio +9

In another terrific debate performance by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rubio had an opportunity to contrast himself from Rand Paul on national security, and even cracked a joke about welders getting paid more than philosophers.  Rubio showcased his national security knowledge and his plans to increase military spending and promote his “family budget.”  Primary voters are really starting to pay attention to this rising candidate.


Ted Cruz +8

Ted Cruz had some of the best lines of the evening following up from his great debate performance two weeks ago, when he called out CNBC about their liberal bias.  Cruz this time got more wonky discussing his new tax reform plan and reforming the Fed and IRS.  According to Fox News pollster Frank Luntz, he had the best line of the night when he used the issue of immigration to make light of the media again.  Ted Cruz is strategically positioning himself as the true conservative running with political experience and continues to lay a strong campaign infrastructure around the country.


Carly Fiorina +6

Carly does what Carly does best, taking on Hillary Clinton in one of the more memorable performances of the night.  She also laid out her economic plans in a concise fashion, including her proposal for a three-page tax filing.  There was also some fun tweets going around that the flag pin she was wearing made her look like she was wearing a Star Trek uniform.  While she did well, can she grow beyond her single digital poll numbers?


Donald Trump +5

Trump seemed to act more like the statesman last night and didn’t really attack his rivals as much as he usually does.  He was strong on immigration and had a great exchange with John Kasich about how he would implement his immigration policies.  But he did call out Carly Fiorina for interrupting Rand Paul at one point; you can tell there is no lost love between these two.  While Trump turned out a solid performance, we’re not sure if he branched out beyond his base of support either.


Ben Carson +5

Carson came into the night wanting to put to bed the story that has dogged him the last several days about his story about the West Point scholarship.  Mission accomplished, and no other candidate attacked him on it.  If that was the goal of the debate for Carson, he continues to stay atop of the polls moving on from this debate.  He also had a wonderful response about why it’s important not to increase the minimum wage.


Rand Paul +4

Paul certainly did well for himself last night by reminding his libertarian base about his non-interventionist national security views.  In one of the more memorable exchanges last night, Rubio criticized Paul for being an isolationist and Paul responded that Rubio was adding more to the deficit with his national security spending plans.  While he might’ve made strides in shoring up his libertarian support, is it really enough to move the needle to branch out from his status at the bottom of the polls?


Jeb Bush +2

Jeb Bush needed a homerun this evening and only hit a single.  While this was no doubt his best performance to date, Rubio, Cruz, and others overshadowed most of what Bush said.  His best answer came when he responded about Homeland Security.  Not sure if this provides confidence to his donors, but he is getting a little more comfortable in the debate setting.


John Kasich -0

I think it’s fair to say that John Kasich knocked himself out of all contention last evening, not just for the presidential race, but the VP one as well.  His answer about wanting to bail out the banks again, if there was another financial collapse, was booed by the audience – something we’ve not seen thus far in any of the debates.  In an effort to be noticed more, Kasich constantly interrupted other candidates and appeared negative and condescending.  It’s hard to see Kasich ever having a chance to regain momentum at this point, especially when the next debate is over a month away – if he even makes the cut!


For more election coverage, check out our 2016 Election Central coverage of the Republican and Democrat primary debates, and also be sure to check out our fun superlative debate awards!


  1. Anthony Conte

    Rubio is by far the strongest candidate against Clinton. Not only is he intelligent and articulate, but his youth contrasts very favorably against Clinton. Being Hispanic and from the swing state of Florida is icing on the cake. If Clinton is elected, the USA as we know it is doomed to European style stagnation and impotence. So, we must go with the strongest candidate, Senator Marco Rubio.

    December 13, 2015,5:58 pm

  2. Brad Tangen

    Carson / Cruz 2015.
    Of all candidates Carson does best against Hillary.
    Of all candidates Cruz is the best debater and has deep knowledge of conservatism.

    November 11, 2015,11:08 pm

  3. Jcar

    If we vote for politicians we will get what politicians do –nothing. VOTE TRUMP 4 PREZ. And why must TRUMP choose a losing politician as his VP?

    November 11, 2015,10:09 pm

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