Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are close behind the Florida senator in the latest round

Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate left some Republicans a bit less sure of their voting intentions.  After the third debate a few weeks ago, the share of Republicans who claimed they were sure whom they would support next year rose to 56%.  In the latest YouGov Poll, that number has dropped nine points and less than half of Republicans are now sure what they will do next year. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has been in third place behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson in recent Economist/YouGov Polls, once again was judged favorably by debate viewers, though his lead was narrow. 

Just 47% of Republicans today say they know how they will vote next year.

Rubio’s debate performances have been regarded well all, although he was eclipsed in the second debate by Carly Fiorina.  This time, one in five viewers judged Rubio as the debate’s “winner,” but there was also a significant amount of credit given to Texas Senator Ted Cruz and frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson, just as there had been after the third debate.  In fact, Rubio’s dominance over those three was less notable in the latest debate than it had been in October. 

Rubio did especially well with those Republicans still making up their minds.

One in three Republicans claimed their image of Rubio was improved by his debate performance but just as many said that about Cruz, and one in five each improved their images of Carson, Trump and Fiorina.  There were losers, too.  More than four in ten Republicans said their image of Ohio Governor John Kasich worsened as a result of this debate – and just one percent improved their opinion of Kasich.  Nearly three times as many Republicans said their image of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had gotten worse because of the debate than said it had gotten better. 

As for the second-tier debate, the poll shows a single candidate dominating: more than half of Republicans in that (smaller) candidate debate audience believed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did the best job in that debate.  And 41% of them said their image of Christie improved after that debate, more than four times the number who said it had gotten worse.

Unlike GOP reactions to the third debate, Republicans approved of the journalists moderating the Fox Business Channel’s debate, and by six to one.  A few weeks ago, Republicans held very different views of the CNBC debate moderators.

Republicans aren’t through with debates —most still want more: 69% say they are looking forward to more debates in the future, although 31% are not. 

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Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here. 

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