For Abovethelaw.com, those front lines include Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice. Since they are both lawyers and journalists they have policy issues down cold.
For The Guardian, it's Ana Marie Cox, former Wonkette at Gawker.
Also, think tanks put out their people. Cato's is Walter Olson. He's adept in both policy and law.
It's fun to read the analysis, especially, minute-by-minute tweeting. But, based on the results in Iowa, it seems that the debates have primarily turned into a media event. Not one which has a lot of influence on voters.
When he was present and when he wasn't, Donald Trump was frequently judged to be the dominant player. But, in Iowa, he did a belly flop. On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton was assessed to be the star. Yet, in Iowa, Bernie Sanders came very close to winning.
Let's face it, the media business has become ultra competitive. It needs to keep the debate momentum going. That brings ratings for TV. It brings traffic for digital publications. And it provides free entertainment for the public.
But, debates don't seem to have the predictive power of even Ronald Reagan's time, never mind the famous JFK-Nixon debates.