Most Democrats had a really good night as the candidates pretty much stuck to the issues at PBS the Democratic Debate.
1). Joe Biden- Former Vice President Biden is getting stronger as these debates go along. The Democratic candidates, with the exceptions of Buttigieg and Warren, refrained from attacking each other. Joe Biden looked more comfortable. The gaffes and stumbles were gone. Biden was very smooth especially by the standard of his previous debates, and he still has the clearest general election message against Trump.
2). Bernie Sanders- Sen. Sanders is the other of the experienced candidates who appeared to be shaking off the rust. This was the strongest performance by Sen. Sanders in a debate yet. As Elizabeth Warren has faded in the polls, Sanders has gotten stronger. The logistical issue for Sen. Sanders is that he doesn’t have the progressive lane to himself. Sen. Warren is still eating into his vote share from the left, and Biden is getting his potential supporters in the center. Sanders is relying less on his greatest hits from 2016. His message is getting fresher, and it directly relates to his improved debate performance.
3). Pete Buttigieg- Buttigieg’s measured tone sounded presidential. He caught criticism from both Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Elizabeth Warren as both of them are betting heavily on Iowa. Buttigieg mixed it up with Warren on fundraisers, and he pointed out that Warren rails against the wealthy, but is rich. Klobuchar went after Buttigieg on experience and showing that he could win. Overall, his night was good, and it is easy to see why he is in the top tier of candidates.
4). Andrew Yang- People who are looking for a different voice and a different candidate have to give Andrew Yang a solid look. What Yang has done in this campaign is remarkable. Candidates with no experience get into politics every year, but Yang has managed to not just wage a campaign, but get enough support to qualify for each of the debates. In a debate that was otherwise all white, Yang brought a different voice and perspective to the stage. He was the candidate who benefitted from having fewer people on the stage.
1). Elizabeth Warren- Sen. Warren had a tough night. Her campaign’s scrum with the Buttigieg campaign spilled into the debate. Warren flatly said that economists who said that her tax increases would slow down economic growth were wrong. She didn’t provide any counter data. She just said that they are wrong. Warren has ideology, and she has plans, but she struggles when confronted with the practicality of what she proposes to do. Many of Sen. Warren’s answers seem to be targeted at voters in Iowa. Sen. Warren has slipped in the polls in recent months, and this debate didn’t do much to help her get her momentum back.
2). Amy Klobuchar- The Klobuchar campaign seems to be betting big on Iowa. Sen. Klobuchar didn’t get to show off her expertise, and she didn’t fare well when she got into a prolonged scuffle with Buttigieg over the question of experience. Sen. Klobuchar was clicking in the previous debate, but something was missing in LA, as her campaign is likely living on borrowed time if she doesn’t finish well in Iowa.
3). Tom Steyer- Steyer seems like a good enough guy, but he doesn’t have a defining message in this campaign. Steyer is just there and is the biggest argument for the debate qualification criteria being changed as one can’t help but think that this overly white group of candidates could have used the perspectives of Booker and Castro to add some diversity that reflects the makeup of the Democratic Party.
4).Viewers who want diversity on the debate stage- The lack of diversity of the debate stage stuck out like a sore thumb. The departure of Sen. Kamala Harris along with rules that left Booker and Castro off the stage caused a debate that many feared. The debate was too white, and there were key constituencies with no voice on the stage. Overall, the debate was good, but previous debates were more representative of the diversity in the Democratic Party.
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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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