A Gravis Marketing post-debate poll released on August 7th found that according to registered Republican voters, Rand Paul was the biggest loser in Thursday’s GOP debate. 67 percent of Republicans said they had a less favorable opinion of Senator Paul after the debate, compared to a mere 14 percent who said their opinion of Rand Paul was more favorable after the debate.
Only 3 percent of Republicans felt Rand Paul won the debate, while 34 percent thought he gave the worst performance in the ten candidate field. Rand Paul emerged as the clear loser in the debate, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson came out as the winner of the debate, according to the Gravis Marketing poll.
Rand Paul engaged in contentious clashes with GOP front-runner Donald Trump and with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Senator Paul ended up on the losing end of both testy exchanges. He came across as cranky and petty, and in so doing, he allowed more affable candidates like Ben Carson and Marco Rubio to present themselves as likable alternatives.
While the Fox debate moderators were clearly gunning to take down Donald Trump, it was Rand Paul who ended up stumbling out of the gate and damaging his political chances going forward. Part of Senator Paul’s failure was due to his demeanor, but he also fell victim to his libertarian philosophical positions.
Republican voters talk a good game about defending personal liberty, but when given the choice between security and liberty, GOP voters demonstrate time and again, that appeals to fear will win them over in greater number than appeals to personal liberty.
Chris Christie won his exchange with Rand Paul about surveillance and national security, because GOP voters are more frightened of terrorists than they are worried about turning over their phone records. Rand Paul may be learning the hard way that Republicans aren’t as libertarian in their thinking as he thought they were.
It takes some really poor political instincts to finish last in a ten person debate field, but Senator Rand Paul was up to the task. With his pathetic debate performance on Thursday there is a possibility that he will drop in the polls, and end up losing his place on the big stage to an upstart from the “children’s table” debate like former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Maybe Senator Paul should have taken a cue from Donald Trump by not ruling out running as a third party candidate. The post-debate poll shows that Republican voters were severely unimpressed with the Kentucky Senator. Maybe he would be better off running on the Libertarian Party line.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.