The first debate for the 2016 election is in the books. Fox News Network set records for viewership. It was a wonderful audience to start the political season. Too bad Fox did such a poor job in front of so many new people. I am a fan of Fox News so it is painful for me to criticize this network. The Fox moderators, Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier did such a poor job you would have thought they were with MSNBC. They drew cheers from the far left for their questions. If this is any indication of what is to come in the future debates, then the GOP should cancel the rest.
The evening began with an attack on Donald Trump for not pledging to support the nominee regardless of who it is. Trump refused to make such a pledge. This had been discussed for several days on all the networks, so there was no need to single Trump out at the beginning of the debate. That was immediately followed by an attack by Megyn Kelly on Donald Trump about name-calling females he has disagreements with. This one-two punch at Trump in the first three minutes of the debate immediately put Trump in an agitated state and set a tone for the rest of the evening.
The purpose of the debate is to get to know the candidates and let them discuss the issues and show the viewers their differences. It is not to have the network play ‘gotcha’ to earn points with their peers at the other networks.
At the end of the night, Trump spoke for 11 plus minutes while Rand Paul spoke just over 5 and a half minutes. Ben Carson felt he was being ignored. Most of the other candidates averaged around six minutes.
The polling after the evening concluded said Rubio won, followed by Walker and Trump. I personally thought Trump did not do well. The early antics by the moderators took Trump off his game and he really never recovered. That may have been caused by the network “stars” but I thought Trump did not come off as Presidential. All the candidates had very strong moments during the evening, including Trump. I personally would be very comfortable with any of the ten candidates that appeared during the evening debate.
Earlier in the day there was a debate of the bottom seven candidates based on polling. Carly Fiorina dominated her competition in that contest. The after debate polling showed she received 82% of the votes for the winner. Fiorina should move up into the top-tier for the future debates based on her performance. I would put her in the middle of the top-tier. If she would have made the evening debate, she might have been lost in the pack with very little exposure. As it is, Fiorina should get quite a boost from her performance not only in the polls but in fundraising as well. Rick Perry should get a small boost from the earlier debate, but he will be overshadowed by Carly. The rest of the field during the early debate failed to create the impact needed to move them up in the polling. It will be a struggle for them to stay viable in this race.
I have not yet gotten off the fence and picked a candidate. I still want to see more interaction between them before I pick a horse in this race. The bottom line is the real winner is the Republican Party for producing eleven strong candidates that could lead this nation. The big loser of the evening was Fox News for its poor performance.