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Updated 6:44 PM |

Republican Undercard Debate: Live Coverage

Filed under 2016 Election

micahscohen 12:32 PM

We’ll be responding to questions and comments all night — tweet@FIVETHIRTYEIGHT or leave a comment.

Dear readers, we’ve started our main stage Fox Business Republican debate live blog. Check it out.

Jody Avirgan 8:17 PM

An update to our informal poll that asks, “Which candidate had you kinda forgotten was still running for president?” So far:

Santorum: 72.3 percent
Jindal: 32.3 percent
Huckabee: 25.7 percent
Kasich: 19.1 percent
Christie: 4.3 percent

You can continue to vote here.

Ben Casselman 8:15 PM

Bobby Jindal uses his closing statement to stress his commitment to shrinking government. His tax plan would certainly do that: It would raise between $9 trillion and $11 trillion less in federal revenue over the next 10 years, according to the Tax Foundation. That’s a bigger cut in taxes than any candidate who has a tax plan other than Donald Trump.

Leah Libresco 8:13 PM

There is a small upside to being in the JV debate: You actually get to answer questions. In tonight’s one-hour debate, everyone got to tackle more questions than any of the debaters in Oct. 28th main-stage debate (twice as long as tonight’s undercard one). Candidates got between seven and nine questions, meaning that they nearly all got more than twice as many as Bush, Christie, Cruz and Fiorina were asked last time around.

Chris Christie has a lot of Republicans to beat, but he’s spent the most time going after Hillary Clinton. Santorum’s one “Clinton” mention is actually for Bill.

meghanag538 8:11 PM

Someone in my family has fought in every war from Iraq/Afghanistan (both wars via one of my cousins) to Vietnam (two uncles) and on and on, back to the Civil War. But as someone who gets to listen to veterans around the dinner table, I can tell you they too have disagreements about policy. They all deserve our honor and respect, first of all, and the respect of being listened to and not being spoken for.

Leah Libresco 8:10 PM

Christie is the strongest, most memorable candidate on stage. I’d give second place to Santorum, on the grounds that he keeps managing to hit his signature issue (family values) in the middle of an economics debate. Points for finding ways to play to his constituency.

Harry Enten 8:09 PM

I feel like Mike Huckabee faded into the background. Chris Christie did well. Going after Clinton is always a winner. I’m less sure about Bobby Jindal. He definitely stood out, but attacking fellow Republicans is usually not a winner. Rick Santorum did fine, but nothing great.

Nate Silver 8:09 PM

To my eyes, Christie was the most polished and tactically sound. And as we wrote before the debate, the media seems ready for a Christie comeback story, so he might get the best press coverage. But Jindal’s gotten the most search traffic, and historically that’s been as good a predictor of polling surges as pundit takes. Still, I guess I’d say Christie > Jindal > Shucktorumbee.

Micah Cohen 8:08 PM

All right, we’re nearing the end here — who do you think did well? Who performed poorly?

David Firestone 8:08 PM

Adding to what Ben just wrote about taxes — it’s worth noting that while 43 percent of Americans pay no income tax, most of those non-payers do contribute to the federal government through payroll taxes (which are sometimes thought of as Social Security taxes but really go to the overall federal treasury). According to the Tax Policy Center, only 14 percent of Americans pay neither income taxes nor payroll taxes, and the majority of those people are elderly. Having everyone put “skin in the game,” as Jindal puts it, would fall most heavily on elderly people and non-elderly people making less than $20,000.

Farai Chideya 8:07 PM

Point of order re: Santorum’s call for nuclear families: whether or not he counts them as such, do two-mom or two-dad families count as “nuclear”? Various definitions say mother/father kids OR “a couple and their dependent children, regarded as a basic social unit.”

Harry Enten 8:06 PM

Mike Huckabee was asked whether he would keep Janet Yellen in charge of the Fed. While he said he would change leadership, most Americans have no clue who she is. According to a March 2015 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 70 percent could not form an opinion of her.

Jody Avirgan 8:06 PM

Remember that pretty detailed and out-there list of format demands that was circulating after the last debate? Things like:

Will you commit that you will not:

  • Ask the candidates to raise their hands to answer a question.
  • Ask yes/no questions without time to provide a substantive answer.
  • Have a “lightning round.”
  • Allow candidate-to-candidate questioning.
  • Allow props or pledges by the candidates.
  • Have reaction shots of members of the audience or moderators during debates.

etc etc …

I think this is the best debate of the election season so far, and partly because the hosts didn’t agree to the demands. Without “candidate-to-candidate questioning” in particular, we never would have had that Christie-Jindal exchange. Even the shorter questions have been illuminating.

The main difference? Only four people on stage. It’s just a simple fact that with more than five or so people on stage, it’s impossible to conduct a civil and productive conversation.

Ben Casselman 8:03 PM

This argument that the Federal Reserve is keeping rates low to help Obama really doesn’t make much sense. Beyond the lack of evidence that the Fed is acting politically, how would that conspiracy work? If low rates are helping the economy, that’s presumably a good thing. And if low rates are hurting the economy, won’t that also be bad for Obama and the Democrats?

Farai Chideya 8:01 PM

Going back to who will drop out first — I say none of them. This seems to be a hobby for the ones for whom it is not a job. It’s like people who have a band on the weekends and a day job the rest of the time. (I’m thinking of Santorum and Huckabee particularly.)

College football is dominating the JV debate.

Harry Enten 7:59 PM

One has to love Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal fighting over their records in their home states. Just 39 percent of New Jerseyans approve of the job Christie is doing as governor. Meanwhile, Louisianans hold Jindal in such low regard that Hillary Clinton gets more support than he does in Louisiana, which Mitt Romney won by 17 percentage points.

Ben Casselman 7:55 PM

Bobby Jindal says he wants everyone to pay some taxes. Most of the other candidates would shift the tax code in the other direction. They would cut taxes for poorer Americans, increasing the number of people who pay no federal income tax. (Incidentally, those are the “47 percent” that Mitt Romney railed against four years ago.)

Nate Silver 7:55 PM

It’s that time in the JV debate when we get bored and look up who has the most search traffic on Google. So far it’s Bobby Jindal!

Jody Avirgan 7:54 PM

I think it’s Jindal, who is the one who probably feels like he needs to gain traction with the establishment in order to have a path. (And it’s not likely to happen.) Santorum can still hold out hope of catching on in Iowa, Christie is clearly going to find some traction after tonight, and Huckabee isn’t going anywhere before Iowa.

Leah Libresco 7:53 PM

I’d say Huckabee, on the grounds that he was the last one I remembered when I ran down the list.

Micah Cohen 7:53 PM

Hmmm … I think probably Bobby Jindal. Paradoxically, I also think he has among the best chances of surging.

Harry Enten 7:53 PM

Who do you think the first of the candidates on this stage will be to drop out of the race?

Ben Casselman 7:51 PM

Most economists agree with Rick Santorum that the U.S. should get rid of the deduction for state and local taxes, which essentially leads residents of low-tax states to subsidize those in high-tax states. But they’d also get rid of the mortgage-interest deduction, which incentivizes people to buy bigger houses than they would otherwise.

Farai Chideya 7:46 PM

During the last debate, race came up primarily during a policing conversation near the end of the debate — not sparked by the moderators but by a comment from Gov. Christie. In this economic-focused debate, there is plenty of room to talk about race and opportunity. There’s already been a vigorous pushback against financial regulations like Dodd-Frank tonight. What about regulations on mortgage lenders, several of whom faced tens or hundreds of millions in fines for race-based inequities in lending during the mortgage crisis? And then there’s the racial wealth gap, which has persisted throughout the years. In 2013, the median wealth of a white family was $130,102, versus $64,165 for an Asian-American family, $13,900 for a Hispanic family, and $11,184 for a black family. One way for the GOP to go for a big tent — after an election that so far has bruised chances with the Latino electorate in particular — might be to address the wealth gap head-on and propose some solutions to it.

Harry Enten 7:43 PM

I think Nate and I are on the same page. If you look at the subjective odds we did on Monday, I wasn’t exactly high on Christie. He has problems. But if you want to give Christie a better chance of winning the primary than Romney of winning the 2012 general on the eve of the election, I think he’ll take it.

Nate Silver 7:42 PM

I don’t think I’m any more skeptical than Harry about the possibility of Christie having a “surge” at some point, or potentially becoming a factor in New Hampshire. He’s certainly having a very good night. But I’m skeptical about how sustainable it might be. Christie has lots of problems, as you’ve pointed out yourself, Harry. In fact, they’re not so different from Jeb Bush’s problems; Christie’s track record is fairly moderate, but he also has middling ratings among independent voters. And if he’s a considerably more dynamic personality than Bush, he’s also seen as a loose cannon and not as much of a party guy. I could buy an argument that Christie is as likely to win the nomination as Bush, but that’s sort of damning with faint praise.

Harry Enten 7:41 PM

I think we have chaos in the primary. With chaos, the most important thing is to win one of the first two contests, Iowa and New Hampshire.

  1. Christie’s net favorability rating has risen in New Hampshire. In a field of 15, it’s conceivable he could win there with support in the low 20s. (Huntsman won 17 percent of the vote there.)
  2. A social conservative unacceptable to the party overall could win in Iowa (like Ben Carson who is leading there currently).
  3. If you can get the fight down to an arch-social conservative and Christie, Christie could win that fight. It’s not a probable outcome. It’s a long shot, but less of a long shot than I think most people think.

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