Tuesday night's GOP debate was an illuminating opportunity to sort out the many candidates vying for the Republican nominations. The night was crucial for candidates like Jeb Bush, once considered a front-runner and now polling at 3%. In fact, in the lead up to the debate, CNN paired the politically dynastic Bush with the soon-to-be ex-Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie. It was clear that the Establishment's "chosen son" had fallen, and many believed he could not revive his campaign. However, Bush exemplified a newfound energy and aggression in Tuesday's debate, going after front-runner Donald Trump more strongly than ever before.
Thus, it is fair to say Bush emerged from Tuesday's debate in a better position than earlier that same day.
Senator Ted Cruz, on the other hand, mostly kept the fight focused on Hillary Clinton, so called "radical Islam," and the federal government, largely eschewing attacks against the party's front-runner.
Many would say, after the summer of Trump, that Marco Rubio is best suited for the nomination. This belief was neither confirmed nor debunked on Tuesday. Rubio performed well, and made similar points that he's pushed throughout the campaign. Instead of attacking his Republican rivals, Rubio spoke mostly of his alleged foreign policy experience, after serving in the Senate since 2011. However, Rubio and Cruz did clash over their widely disparate views on immigration. Although Rubio attempted to pain their positions as essentially equal, Ted Cruz was adamant that he did not support Rubio's "path to citizenship" bill.
Donald Trump performed, somewhat as expected, in a more subdued, collected fashion. Although he jabbed other politicians constantly, and snuck in plenty of insults, the fiery rhetoric and tone of his infamous rallies was largely missing on Tuesday night. Perhaps Trump thinks this more moderate personality will help him win over moderate voters, however, he runs the risk of receiving the "low energy" label he notoriously placed on Bush.