Democrats held a big debate in South Carolina, and here are the candidates who rose to the challenge and those who might have had their last night on stage.
1). Pete Buttigieg – Mayor Pete was on fire during the South Carolina debate. Buttigieg was on a mission to take on Bernie Sanders. Buttigieg had the moment of the debate when he said that Bernie Sanders math equals four more years of Trump and a Republican House and Senate. Buttigieg also asked Sanders how he can deliver a revolution when he won’t even support changing the Senate filibuster? Buttigieg’s message keeps getting clearer and his voice stronger as his campaign goes on.
2). Joe Biden – Biden had his second strong debate in a row. The former vice president came out strong and stayed strong. One of the things to look for was the reaction of the audience in the debate hall. It was clear that the room belonged to Biden. He had more support there. Whether or not that translates to votes on Saturday has yet to be seen, but it looks like Joe Biden is in the driver’s seat in the South Carolina primary.
1). Bernie Sanders – Democrats came after Sanders during the debate, and he didn’t hold up well. Sen. Sanders tends to over-rely on his stump speech for debate answers, which means that most of his debate performances tend to look and sound alike. Sanders isn’t a good debater. Like Trump, he isn’t interested in details and doesn’t seem to have the ability to deep dive on the issues. It wasn’t a great night for Sanders, but he is really about Super Tuesday and not South Carolina.
2). Amy Klobuchar – This looks like the end of the line for the Klobuchar campaign. Sen. Klobuchar didn’t get much airtime, and when she did, she didn’t do much with it. She seems poised for a last-place finish in South Carolina, and it would be shocking if she were still around after Super Tuesday.
3). Mike Bloomberg – Bloomberg has gone from captivating advertising campaign to just another guy on the stage. Bloomberg’s ads may have bought him enough support to get some delegates on Super Tuesday, but Bloomberg is probably behind Biden and Buttigieg in the moderate lane of the party.
4). Elizabeth Warren – Elizabeth Warren is stuck in a weird limbo in the primary. She is trying to differentiate herself from Sanders as a progressive who gets things done, but she also wants to appeal to Democrats. The South Carolina debate was a microcosm of Warren’s problem. She can’t get progressive support away from Sanders, and she too far left for the moderate lane.
5). Tom Steyer- Steyer bet his campaign on South Carolina, but his debate performance didn’t provide enough of a lift to get him into the top two. Steyer was fairly forgettable, and he is another candidate whose campaign likely ends after South Carolina.
For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.
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