Losers: top loser should be Donald Trump, although until now he has been invulnerable to errors which should sink any candidate. Refusing to appear and debate over a feud with one of the (conservative) moderators makes him look self-important and immature. On the other hand , as front-runner, there is something to be said for avoiding the opportunity for all of the other candidates to pile on. But that seems cynical.
Ted Cruz should have lost ground by fighting with a moderator, Chris Wallace, seemingly confirming the misgivings about his personality and ability to get along with colleagues. This seemed to me a huge, historic gaffe. His jokes at Trump's expense fell flat, and seemed to at least this observer to be mean-spirited and cowardly, since Trump was not there to respond. Rubio and Fox (the moderators) also drew blood by making him look like a flip-flopper on immigration.
Rubio is the obvious beneficiary of a loss by both Trump and Cruz, but he too had his worst debate. He lost an exchange with Bush and also looked like a hypocrite on immigration. Squirmed and double-talked like a skilled politician. This is exactly what the people are fed up with.
Christie had the best moment, in my mind, when he called both Cruz and Rubio on double-talk. Underlining both his better credentials and outsider status. And a very good moment when he called for defunding Planned Parenthood. Also good was his reference to the Clintons living in "public housing."
Bush had a very strong performance and won an exchange with Rubio on immigration. Too bad for him it is too late. His name, his previous hackneyed performances, and his vicious attack ads killed his candidacy some time ago. His numbers have already jumpied in N.H. polling.
Rand Paul had his best debate. If positive references on Twitter are an accurate measure, he was winner of the debate. A lso too late. Same for Kasick. Kasick is a good candidate, but doomed. He will never be acceptable to the Party's right wing.
Ben Carson only showed up.
It is too late for Christie to be a factor in Iowa, but his debate performance may allow him to leapfrog the other candidates in New Hampshire.