Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg were the clear winners during the first night of the CNN Democratic debate.
Winners and Losers
1). Elizabeth Warren- Sen. Warren had a strong debate. She came straight after Donald Trump and provided a vocal defense of her policies and plans. Sen. Warren’s voice was fresh and from the moment that she stepped on the debate stage, she was a star. Warren has a combination of charisma and fight. Warren had no stumbles. The one crime in this debate setup is that she has now had two debates and has yet to share the stage with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Warren is a top tier candidate, and she should get a boost out of this debate performance.
2). Bernie Sanders- Sen. Sanders came out with much more energy in this debate. Sen. Sanders benefitted from having moderates on stage to mix it up with. There was also a decrease in the recycled 2016 rhetoric. Sanders is facing a strong challenge from both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris for second place in the Democratic field. This was a much better version of debating Sen. Sanders. The problem is that the Democratic field as moved left, and it is unclear if Sen. Sanders did enough to stand apart from the other progressives in the race and close the gap on former vice president Biden.
strong>3). Pete Buttigieg- Mayor Pete was up and down. He talked about structurally reforming American democracy. Buttigieg wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great either. Buttigieg got stronger as the night went along. His best moment was when he called out Christian Republican Senators for blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage. Buttigieg was cut above the rest of the field, but a notch below Warren and Sanders.
1).Marianne Williamson- Williamson doesn’t belong on a presidential debate stage. She had a debate performance that was in line with the first debate. She should be one of the candidates who does not qualify for the third debate in September.
2).Steve Bullock- Bullock was part of a group of moderates that CNN seemed to have put on the stage with Sanders and Warren to create conflict. Bullock doesn’t stand out. The comment out kicking the Koch brothers out of Montana. Bullock is making a play for the Democrats who voted for Trump. His message is a downer, and he can’t gain traction in this race.
3). John Hickenlooper- Another one of the Democratic moderates who in a different era might have been an appealing candidate, but is out of step with where the bulk of Democratic primary voters are today. Hickenlooper, Bullock, and the other moderates are also suffering because Joe Biden has a firm grip on conservative and moderate Democrats.
4).John Delaney- Delaney has spent millions of dollars of his own money to run, and his campaign is doing so badly that his own advisers told him to quit. Delaney is too corporate for the current Democratic Party and served as a punching bag for Warren and Sanders.
5).Beto O’Rourke- Former Rep. O’Rourke struggled to get airtime, and can’t seem to recapture the magic that he had in Texas. O’Rourke looks outmatched by the presidential debate stage. He doesn’t have the personality or the ideas needed to stand out. O’Rourke’s campaign will likely be over after Iowa or New Hampshire.
6). Amy Klobuchar- It just isn’t working for Sen. Klobuchar. She has adopted the persona of the fed-up Midwestern fighter, but it isn’t convincing. She doesn’t have enough of a presence to stand out in such a crowded field, and her debate performances have not been memorable.
7). Tim Ryan- Ryan is another Midwesterner who seems to be running because he is from Ohio. A lot of these lower-tier Democrats would make great cabinet secretaries, but they aren’t presidential material. Ryan’s campaign is living on borrowed time.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association