Many Iowa Republicans are still considering which candidate they'll caucus for on Monday. A Quinnipiac poll of likely GOP caucus participants from earlier this week has 39 percent saying they may change their minds.
Some of the undecided gathered in front of two large projectors on the second floor of the downtown Des Moines Marriott last night to watch the last GOP debate before the caucuses. Moderated by Fox News, the debate was held a half-mile away at the Iowa Events Center.
Two debate-watchers who are still weighing their options are loan reviewer Dena Bennett of Des Moines, and her husband Jacob. The couple say before tonight, it was down to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Now they are leaning towards Rubio.
"Especially with the way Rubio was unapologetic about throwing Jesus out there...I wish more of the candidates had more time to talk about their social views," says Dena Bennett. "Cruz was a little disappointing this time around. I don’t know what his deal was. If it was the center podium giving him too much of an inflated head, or something?"
"I thought there was a whole lot more substance to tonight's debate without Donald Trump," adds Jacob Bennett, who is a children's ministry director for Walnut Creek Church.
Trump was invited to the debate, but because of a feud with moderator Megyn Kelly and Fox News, he opted to hold a rally for veterans at nearby Drake University instead.
Iowa State University agricultural researcher Steve Fox was also considering three candidates at the beginning of the debate, but now he likely has made up his mind. While Fox sees things he likes in Cruz and Rubio, he's most impressed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
"I would say his best moment tonight was reassuring the American people that he’s made the best decisions in New Jersey. He’s made decisions to protect the citizens of New Jersey, and he would do so on a national level against ISIS," says Fox.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, both Cruz and Trump are statically tied with 29 and 31 percent respectively. Rubio is a distant third, polling at 13 percent, and all other candidates are in the single digits.