Ted Cruz, strong anti-Planned Parenthood advocate, is GOP debate's biggest winner

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who wants to shut down Planned Parenthood, jumps to second place after a stunning performance during the first round of the Republican presidential debate in Cleveland last week.Reuters

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a strong advocate of a move to defund abortion service provider Planned Parenthood in the Senate, was considered the biggest winner of the first Republican presidential debate that was aired on Fox television last week.

An NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, which was conducted after the GOP debate in Cleveland last Thursday, found Cruz jumping to second place overall, gaining 13 percent voter support behind frontrunner Donald Trump with 23 percent. Cruz increased his prior rating by a whopping 7 percent, the biggest such increase among the Republican presidential contenders.

Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina was believed to have won the "happy hour" debate among the seven bottom candidates as she is now tied with Florida Senator Marco Rubio at fourth place with 8 percent, behind third placer Ben Carson with 11 percent. Prior to the debate, Fiorina only had a 2 percent rating.

"Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina were the candidates with the most gains in support, 7 points and 6 points respectively, but there was no real change among most candidates given an error estimate of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points," NBC News and Survey Monkey said in a statement released on Sunday.

The new poll said the constitutional conservative gained the most out of the first of six debates, where Republican National Committee will base its decision in nominating GOP's presidential candidate for the 2016 US presidential polls.

Cruz, who is willing to use every procedural tool available to defund Planned Parenthood, has doubled the number of his support he had among Republican voters, which only reached 6 percent before the event.

He stood out from other Republican lawmakers, stirring the pot with a call of action to completely shut down Planned Parenthood, the subject of five undercover videos, which exposed the group's shockingly inhuman and unethical abortion practices in the US.

"I believe we should use every and any procedural tool available to defund Planned Parenthood," Cruz told reporters prior to the Senate's 53-46 vote on defunding the nationwide organisation last Aug. 3, according to the Hill.

His stance overshadowed Cruz's fellow Republican presidential candidates Rubio and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who both voted against the $528-million annual funding for Planned Parenthood.

Rubio did not gain or lose the confidence of Republican voters in the survey following his performance at the Fox News presidential debate. Paul now ranked seventh with 5 percent after losing 1 percent support after the event.

Carson increased his poll numbers by three points, moving into third place overall after giving one of the strongest closing statements of any candidate in either debate.

Despite drawing criticisms for his sexist remarks against Fox news anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly, Trump remained at the top gaining 1 more percent support from Republican voters for a rating of 23 percent.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush fell three notches down to tie with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for fifth place following their uninspiring debate performances.