The top three Democrats in the polls were on stage together, but who won? Here are the winners and losers of the ABC Democratic debate.
1). Beto O’Rourke – Beto O’Rourke has found his voice on the gun issue, and he stood out in this debate. The big criticism of O’Rourke has been a lot of flash and a lack of policy. Beto had the policy ideas at this debate. It might not be enough to save his presidential campaign, but O’Rourke showed some of the promise that got Democrats so excited during his Senate campaign.
2). Joe Biden – Biden appears to be hitting his groove in these debates. Castro tried to play the age card on Biden, and it blew up in his face. Biden knows who he is and he is strong on his center-left views. Biden looked like the leader of this field when he praised Beto O’Rourke for how he handled El Paso. The former vice president had an answer for his critics and made a strong argument against Medicare For All as being something that won’t help people now. Biden came in as the frontrunner, and he leaves Texas as the frontrunner.
3). Elizabeth Warren – Voters were waiting for Warren to finally get to share the stage with the other top tier candidates, and she lived up to expectations. Warren matched up better against Biden than Sanders, and Sen. Warren mixed her policy ideas with her passion and ideals. Warren can talk about policies and values. This debate showed why she is a force in the primary and a serious contender to be the nominee.
4). Andrew Yang – If a voter is looking for a quirky candidate with unique ideas, Andrew Yang stood out. Sure, his $1,000 dividend to ten families was a gimmick, but it did the job. It got him noticed and trending on social media. His idea of publicly funding elections through democracy dollars is unique. Yang might not be the nominee, but his presence is growing in these debates and is fun on the debate stage.
Losers (This field is strong, so there are no losers):
1). Bernie Sanders – Sen. Sanders had a tough night. Biden knows how to handle Sen. Sanders, and make him look too far left for some Democratic voters. However, the bigger problem for Sen. Sanders is the presence of Sen. Warren. Elizabeth Warren steals a lot of the Sanders thunder that was there in 2016. Sen. Sanders tends to play a lot of his greatest hits from 2016. There were long segments of the debate where he wasn’t heard from. Sen. Sanders didn’t do anything to catch Biden, but he is still well set up for the early state contests, especially in Iowa and Nevada.
2). Kamala Harris – The rollercoaster ride of the Harris campaign continued. Sen. Harris is having a problem standing out. She is a perfectly solid candidate, but she can’t seem to breakthrough. Sen. Harris had her best moment in her opening statement, and then she was lackluster for the rest of the night.
3). Julian Castro – Castro is a qualified candidate, but he tried to mix it up with Biden on both supporting Obama, and the former vice president’s age. It didn’t work. Castro looked like a good candidate who is desperate. He realizes that his time is running out, but he didn’t wear the desperation well.
4). Amy Klobuchar – Sen. Klobuchar got a chance to speak at this debate, but the center lane of the primary is crowded, and she lacks the charisma to stand out on what was still a crowded debate stage. Sen. Klobuchar is solid, but solid isn’t good enough in this field.
5). Cory Booker – Sen. Booker shined on criminal justice reform, but he was invisible for long stretches of the debate. Again, there are no bad candidates in this field, but Booker was one of those Democrats who needed a breakout moment, and it didn’t come tonight.
6). Pete Buttigieg – Buttigieg was ok, but he has flatlined in the polls for months, because of his fundraising, Mayor Pete is going to be in the race longer than most of the other candidates in this category, but his biography isn’t matching up to his performance, and the spark is definitely gone.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a 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
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