Here's What GOP Voters Thought About The Second Debate

Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio notched another set of strong performances.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) managed to stand out from the pack in last week's Republican debate, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

Among the 71 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters who saw all or some of the evening's main debate, or who watched clips or highlights of it later, Fiorina was widely seen as turning in the best performance, with 41 percent naming her as the debate's winner. Fifteen percent chose Rubio as the winner, while 14 percent named real estate mogul Donald Trump. No other candidate scored higher than 6 percent on this question.

Fiorina also saw the largest improvement for her image, with nearly 60 percent of the GOP voters who tuned in saying they ended the night with a higher opinion of her. Rubio saw the second-biggest gain. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who impressed many Republicans during the first debate and received a corresponding boost in the polls, scored more modestly this time around.

For other candidates, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, any gains they experienced as a result of the debate were offset by voters who disliked their performances. The candidate most bruised by the debate was Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who often stood as the lone libertarian holdout on foreign policy during the broadcast, at one point declaring, "We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire." Trump, who found himself on the receiving end of some of Fiorina's most pointed barbs, also impressed more people unfavorably than he did favorably -- perhaps unsurprisingly for a controversial candidate who appears to have hit a ceiling for support.

Meanwhile, the four low-polling candidates in CNN's other debate last week failed to make much of an impression. Just 30 percent of survey respondents said they watched all or part of the debate between Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Penn.), former New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), while another 21 percent saw only clips.

Among the people who saw all, some or clips of the four-way debate, the consensus was that nobody won -- although 30 percent did say it improved their opinion of Jindal, who spent much of the forum on the attack against Trump and other contenders.

More than half of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say they're still making up their minds -- a number that's changed almost not at all since the first debate, suggesting that these early melees play only a limited role in most voters' decisions. Seventy-nine percent of those voters, though, say they're looking forward to future debates. 


The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Sept. 17-21 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.