The CNBC debate featured a little — though not a lot — of policy substance. It also featured a lot of clashes between moderators and candidates. When the dust settled, the presidential field looked potentially reshaped.

Cruz was strong, while Jeb Bush was once again weak. But Rubio is now three for three, and he is now the most important figure in the GOP race, even as he trails Trump and Carson in the polls.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.