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Many in Connecticut pay close attention to first Republican debate

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NEW HAVEN-- Connecticut of course is far from a Republican stronghold, but many in the state paid close attention to Thursday night's GOP debate.

"I've never seen this much interest and excitement around a presidential debate that's this early," said Quinnipiac University political science professor Scott McLean.

McLean says Donald Trump was the candidate attracting the most interest in Thursday's debate.  McLean  thinks the poll numbers will remain high for Trump, the Republican front-runner according to national pols, regardless of how well people think he did in the debate.

"He shouldn't be doing this well, but he is. He shouldn't be getting away with what he is, but he is," McLean said.

At the Acropolis Diner in Hamden, there were plenty of people who seemed captivated by what Trump is doing.

"At least he's hitting things that affect me, him and hardworking people," said Ralph Salatto of Bethany.

"I like him because he tells it like it is," said Toni LeClaire of North Haven.

McLean also said Ohio Gov. John Kasich did better than expected-- aided by the hometown crowd.

He also said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio could be a breakout.

"I think he is the one to watch after this debate.  He really shined," said McLean.

McLean says former business executive Carly Fiorina could make noise, even though she appeared in the pre-debate  for lower-polling candidates before the top 10 took the stage.

Many critics say the Republicans largely ignored issues surrounding the economy and race relations in the debate. McLean says many voters won't care as much about critical issues until later in the primary season.

"They're not looking for a tried and true, and reliable candidate, that comes later," McLean said.