The pre-debate debate has been all about Carly Fiorina vs. CNN.
Until late Tuesday, CNN’s controversial debate criteria had threatened to leave Fiorina out in the cold, and the former CEO actively took on the issue in the court of public opinion.
Fiorina clearly won coming out of last month’s Republican debates. Now, this is a performance evaluation, not about picking horses. Put aside your favorite candidate for the moment. She won the happy hour debate outright, according to most analysts. She wasn’t in the prime-time debate competing for oxygen in the world of Donald Trump, and her surge in polling and financial backing post-debate demonstrates this. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson also has gained steadily since Aug. 6. He is now even with Trump in Iowa and surging in New Hampshire and South Carolina.