Who Won the Debate?

In Thursday's Republican Presidential debate, there were charges and counter charges traded. This is the next to last debate before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, so the stakes were high for a top performance.

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Here are 4 indicators of who came out ahead -- and behind -- in last night's debate.

1) Trump and Cruz are clearly the frontrunners -- and the gloves are coming off! Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have avoided direct attacks on each other until recently, but that ended last night. Cruz defended his citizenship with a counter-attack on Trump's mother being born in Scotland. Overall, both Trump and Cruz gave strong performances and are now clearly the two to beat.

2) Rubio did well. Marco Rubio was strong and direct in his comments, even while coming under direct attack from Cruz and Christie. He seems to be moving into the lead in the "establishment candidate" lane while still appealing to conservatives.

3) Christie is improving. Gov. Chris Christie turned in a strong performance and his standing seems to be improving over two months ago, when he was relegated to the "undercard" debate. His forceful statements gave the impression of an executive ready to lead.

4) Carson is not as strong as two months ago. Ben Carson, who was in second place just two months ago, did not project the strength of a frontrunner. While he did not have any negative moments, his performance was probably not strong enough to send him back into the top 2 or 3.

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