Thirty minutes into the debate I knew I wouldn’t be able to recap it in the same way I did with the first Republican debate. There was just too much actual policy discussion. I don’t mean that as commentary on either party. Tuesday night did really drive home the point of why 11 people on a debate stage is just too many. You want to give everyone time but that means the debate can go 3.5 hours and you still weren’t able to actually get anything of substance out of every candidate. I’m hoping both parties will take note and have a more streamlined selection process for debates in the future.
If I’m not going to do that recap though, what will I talk about in this recap? I’m glad you asked. There are two things I’m going to try to touch on: how the debate affected each of the candidate’s chances at the nomination and a look at Trump’s live tweeting of the event.
Chafee and Webb are both out and done. No real surprise in either case. They were both polling extremely low going in. I believe Chafee had the worst showing of anyone in the debates, particularly him stumbling through excuses for not really knowing what he was voting for in the Senate. Webb was definitely the most conservative Democrat on the stage last night and that just doesn’t seem like it’s what the party wants right now.
O’Malley has been widely praised for his closing remarks are rightly so. Even so, he still has no real shot at the nomination. Currently Sanders is the ‘not Clinton’ choice and O’Malley didn’t do enough to really separate himself from either one. It is possible that was by design though. In the way he praised the party as a whole in his closing remarks he could easily be setting himself up for a VP nomination from the eventual winner.
There has been a lot of talk about whether Sanders or Clinton actually won the debate. I think they both won and I say that because I think they both had completely different goals going into the debate, let’s start with Sanders.
It was clear from the get go he was there to talk about his issues. In his opening statements he made no mention of his own resume or accomplishments, he focused purely on the subjects of income inequality and big bank/wall street misconduct. He wants those issues front and center and he achieved that.
The things hurting Sanders right now are name recognition and the minority vote. As far as name recognition goes he picked up more twitter followers than Clinton by a wide margin.(46,000 to 10,000) The minority vote won’t hurt him much until later. The first two primaries are in Iowa(93% white) and New Hampshire(95% white), but if Sanders wants to win the Democratic nomination he’s going to have to change this chart.
One of the places that Clinton did stumble last night was in her answering of the Black Lives Matter question. Sanders tackled it head on and gave a strong answer in support of the movement. Clinton did seem to sidestep the question a bit. Sanders also make certain to bring up minorities in many of his other answers. I haven’t seen any polls to show if his performance on Tuesday loosened Clinton’s strong grip on those demographics. If the goals of Sanders were to get his issues out there, get his name out there, and have the opportunity to try to influence his weakest poll area, I’d say he won the debate.
Clinton’s goals are a little easier to identify. She’s the leader and wants to keep it that way, that means no blatant mistakes. She also has had a long news cycle of negative headlines from various scandals of varying degrees of legitimacy, so she wants the headlines to be about not that.
The fact that the headlines out there right now even debate whether she won prove she achieved both of her goals. It’s her nomination to lose and she certainly didn’t lose it on Tuesday. She came across as the experienced debater that she is. Granted it wouldn’t take much to look like a pro when Chafee is providing a highlight real of don’ts for speech coaches across the country to use.
Not only have the headlines been about how she may have won, there’s even positive spin on the email scandal thanks to Sanders expressing the sentiment of most Democrats that he’s sick of hearing about it. The moment received a standing ovation during the debate and will likely be mentioned every time the emails come up for the next couple weeks.
I do think there is a slight media overreaction to how well Clinton did in the debates because there was also an overreaction to how much the scandals were hurting her. The truth is that despite all the negative press her poll numbers haven’t really changed much(3%) since August 1st. If you’d like a longer discussion on how the email scandal has and hasn’t impacted Clinton I’d recommend this article:
Many outlets were going with a ‘Clinton is in big trouble’ narrative and the debates have served to get everyone back to viewing her chances for the nomination accurately. Clinton didn’t do anything in the debates to lose front runner status and there are stories being run about her that don’t include the words ’email’ or ‘Benghazi’. To me, that counts as a win for Clinton as well.
Both had needs going into this debate and I think both achieved them. So I’m calling them both winners. Cop out? Maybe. Accurate? As far as I can tell.
I’m a big fan of looking at gambling odds on politics because sportsbooks have a vested interest in being accurate when a lot of news outlets really don’t. Taking the numbers from the site PredictWise the day after the debate, the current Democratic nomination picture looks like this:
I’m already at about as long as I ever like to force you to read at one time, so I’ll close this by saying thank you for reading and keep your eyes open for Part Trump coming before the end of the weekend.
As always, questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Answers are guaranteed.