Ten Democrats debated in Georgia on MSNBC, and here are the candidates who shined and some who stumbled at the debate.
Winners and Losers
1). Amy Klobuchar – Klobuchar has continued to get better and better with each debate. She makes an interesting argument about being able to win in the Midwest. Klobuchar is poised to show a bit better in Iowa than in the national polls. She has become an interesting candidate in the center lane, who is showing well in the debates, but she will need a boost in Iowa to have a shot at the nomination.
2). Kamala Harris- Sen. Harris stopped going for the big homerun debate moments. She instead played into her strengths on criminal justice reform, her work as a prosecutor, and she really shined when she took on Tulsi Gabbard for her right-wing ties.
3). Pete Buttigieg – Mayor Pete had a really good night. Buttigieg took on Donald Trump for stealing from vets. He made strong policy points, and overall looked much more comfortable outside of the chaos that was the jammed 12 candidate event at the previous debate. The momentum in Iowa looks real for Buttigieg, but he can’t get any support from minority voters. Unless Buttigieg wants to be an Iowa wonder, he needs to expand his base of support to reach the majority of Democratic primary voters.
4). Elizabeth Warren – Sen. Warren got lots of time to talk and did nothing to hurt her standing with her supporters. If anything Warren might have become more appealing to the left lane of the Democratic primary. Warren leaves this debate in the same strong position that she came in with.
5).Joe Biden- Former vice president Biden reaffirmed his brand. He was strong on foreign policy. His moderate healthcare position of expanding Obamacare and his message that he is the person who can get things done and get more Democrats elected to the House and Senate is going to appeal to those voters who are focused on winning. Biden had what have become his usual Biden verbal stumbles, but they haven’t cost him with his supporters before, and they probably won’t now. The Democratic frontrunners stayed out of each other’s way, which means that like Warren, it was a good night for Biden.
6). Bernie Sanders – Sen. Sanders is another frontrunner who saw no harm come to his standing in the field. Sen. Sanders still has the same problem. He is getting squeezed from Warren on the left, and Biden in the middle. Sen. Sanders has stopped relying on the same talking points as the 2016 election and looked healthier than he has in years. Sanders probably didn’t catch up to Warren and Biden, but he is still in the top three.
1). Tulsi Gabbard – Gabbard got her head handed to her by Kamala Harris, and when a candidate’s biggest moment of the debate is a bad one, it was not a good night. The common theme with all of the candidates on this half of the list is that they are low in the polls and didn’t get a breakthrough moment.
3). Cory Booker- Sen. Booker is a candidate that just can’t catch fire. Booker is a very good candidate, but he can’t seem to get any traction. It continues to feel like Sen. Booker missed his window and should have run in 2016.
4).Tom Steyer – Tom Steyer is defined as a candidate. Steyer is another interesting candidate, but it is unclear what he stands for. Steyer talked about term limits and allowing the American people to directly vote on laws, but one wonders that after the election of Trump if America has the stomach for a wealthy inexperienced candidate assuming the presidency.
Overall, this was one of the best and easiest to watch Democratic debates. The chaos was gone and the candidates got to talk. There was very little conflict among the candidates, and the first-ever all-female moderation panel was fantastic. The questions were good. They kept the debate moving, and it would be great to see Maddow, Mitchell, Welker, and Parker do many more debates in the future.
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