There was plenty of talk about how the GOP front-runners stack up against potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Thursday's debate, but who really has the best shot against the former secretary of state?
It might not be the candidate you’re expecting.
Donald Trump dismissed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s debate suggestion that he wouldn’t do well in a general election against Clinton.
"If I can't beat her, you're really going to get killed, aren't you?" Trump countered to applause.
" … in the last 10 polls (on) RealClearPolitics (Trump) has lost to Hillary on eight of them," Cruz said. "In the last 10 polls on RealClearPolitics, I either tied or beat Hillary. And this is an example."
It appears the man Trump called "lying Ted Cruz" on Twitter Friday was telling viewers the truth when he said Trump came up on the short end in eight of the last 10 head-to-head polls against Clinton.
Going back to a Dec. 20 Quinnipiac poll of registered voters (47-40 Clinton), Trump prevailed in the hypothetical match up in only two of the next nine polls in the RCP average.
That may seem substantial, but in the five polls since Feb. 2, Trump is trailing only 2.8 points on average.
Cruz isn't doing much better in February, with the average margin in his favor by .8 points.
However, Cruz wins all but two of the last 10 RCP-monitored polls against Clinton, and ties another two. It’s easy to see why the senator is a fan of that metric.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, does even better in February, with an average margin of plus-4.7 points. Rubio also wins all but two of the preceding 10 polls.
Dr. Ben Carson has only been featured in a single head-to-head poll of record since late December, and Clinton is favored there by four points.
Topping them all is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose February average margin against Clinton is plus-7.4 points. RealClearPolitics is only monitoring four February polls between the governor and Clinton, and Kasich wins each of them.