8News Daily Poll: Who came out on top in the 3rd GOP debate?

RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WRIC) — Three months before primary voting begins, the Republican contest remains crowded and unwieldly. Yet the contours of the race have been clarified, with outsiders capitalizing on voter frustration with Washington and candidates with political experience hoping the race ultimately turns their way.

Trump, the brash real estate mogul, has dominated the Republican race for months, but was a less of a factor Wednesday night than in the previous two debates. He largely refrained from personal attacks on his rivals, which has been a signature of his campaign, even taking a light touch with Carson, who has overtaken him in recent Iowa polls.

Carson, the soft-spoken retired neurosurgeon who came into the debate with a burst of momentum, stuck to his low-key style. He sought to explain his vague tax policy, which he has compared to tithing, in which families donate the same portion of their income to their church regardless of how much they make. And he insisted he had no involvement with supplement maker Mannatech, although he acknowledged using its product and giving paid speeches for the company, which has faced a legal challenge over health claims for its products.

But in an economic policy-focused debate, Trump and Carson at times faded to the background during the two-hour contest.

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