Ben Carson and Donald Trump still stand atop the polls, but Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are now the front-runners. Cruz and Rubio both debated brilliantly, and Jeb Bush failed to turn things around.

There's a trend here: The strong showing of fresh-faced first-term senators in their 40s shows a real readiness for change — a fact also evidenced by the poll dominance of outsiders Carson and Trump.

Rubio captures this spirit best, and packages it as an attack on Hillary Clinton, saying he'll make the general election a choice between the past and the future. Rubio, Cruz, and Fiorina all tap into newly receptive conservative veins by blasting crony capitalism.

Meanwhile, consider Bush's weak campaign, John Kasich's flailing debate performance, and the negligible candidacies of Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Jim Gilmore and George Pataki. The theme is clear: the Republican Party of the 1990s and 2000s is no longer in demand.

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