March 11, 2016

Florida Republican debate observations

Marco Rubio had the best performance at the debate last night, not because the hometown crowd applause for many of his points, but rather because he made some truly substantive points and sounded more presidential than Ted Cruz (my personal preference).

John Kasich in focus groups appeared to do well but I didn't see it.  He seemed very centrist which I found unappealing but the real problem for him as a candidate was his demeanor.  He seemed tired.  It reminded me of the George W. Bush debate where he was leaning on the podium and looked like he wanted to be somewhere else.  Kasich didn't display it to the same level, it was more subtle.  But it seemed to me that he was just waiting for Ohio be over so he can drop out.  Maybe I'm wrong but that was the impression I got.

Ted Cruz did well but in order for him to move the dial on future results he's got to expand his message to a broader audience.  There's only one way to do that.  Ted - we know you'd govern as a Constitutional conservative, move past it.  The single issue that would move the dial for Cruz would be for him to focus on the economy and jobs and job security.  He's hit on it a few times but he needs to do it more.

Donald Trump looked more presidential (and as I write, his press conference with Ben Carson's endorsement he's seeming it even more).  What I found fascinating was his closing argument about Supreme Court justice appointments over the next four years. v If he meant what he said, that's a powerful argument for those doubting his conservative credentials.  Let's see if he hits on that more going forward.

Overall, I don't think the debate will change any expected results in the next few states.  It may add a few points for Trump and for Rubio, but there is not going to be a paradigm shift out of it.

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