If my thoughts on the first night of the DNC debates turned into a pitch for Warren (please consider donating a few dollars to her campaign), the second night merely confirmed that she’s easily the strongest candidate. Things went much less smoothly, and the candidates often took the debate into their own hands turning it into, in Harris' words, a “food fight”.
Who stood out?
Two people (and only two people) stood out tonight, one in a good way and one in a bad. The others, try as they might, just took up space on the stage. Even Bernie, for all his eloquence, couldn’t break out of the pack except to whisper a few sweet nothings with less substance than any single line spoken by Warren the night before.
Let’s start with the good: Kamala Harris managed to maker her voice heard, chastise the other candidates, and generally grab the spotlight with ease. She had a few great moments that I’m sure we’ll see replayed in the coming days, and that’s got to be good for her numbers. Biden on the other hand decided to engage in a racially charged fight with Harris, further demonstrating that he’s an out of touch old white man who doesn’t understand the electorate and is under the impression that it’s still the 70s.
Harris used her prosecutorial skills to build a case against Biden and lay it out in front of the American people, then let him stumble into her trap where his own words betrayed him. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the beginning of the end for his presidential run. I’m guessing (with no experience or knowledge to back this up) that after a brief spike in the post-debate high, his numbers begin to steadily decline as the debate is rehashed in the coming days. Then again, despite his constant gaffes he’s made it this far and name recognition can get you a long way this early in.
What was the biggest surprise?
Several of the less experienced candidates spent more time attacking Trump tonight. Let’s be clear: the nation has already decided on Trump, you don’t have to attack him to convince Democrats (or even moderates) to vote for you. Let’s stick to policy like the candidates (mostly) did on the first night.
Also no one at my debate watching party made mocktails with the “Andrew Tang” or “Jay Instea”, or drank any beer out of the “Buttikeg”. Given the quality of my puns, maybe that’s not actually a surprise — at least the “Feel the Bern” buffalo wings were popular.
What do you want to see more of?
Same as last night. I’d like to see the top candidates rebel against the DNC and host a climate focused debate. The DNC may not do single topic debates, but if you really want to show the American people that you have the grit to do what needs to be done in Washington, at least stand up to your fundraisers when they threaten to keep you out of future debates if you talk about a topic they don’t like. If Bernie and Warren both hosted a climate debate, I seriously doubt the DNC would actually bar two of their front runners from future debates knowing they’d wind up with the Bernie effect from 2016 all over again (a split vote and 4 more years of Trump and his ilk). Then again, the DNC is fairly gaffe prone itself, so maybe the candidates shouldn’t risk it.
What about the moderators?
Was it just me, or did they do a worse job of keeping time tonight? Not that I can blame them; keeping 10 rowdy children in line has got to be tough.
Do you still really like Warren?
Yes. My lineup after the debates has shifted around somewhat, but after seeing both nights Warren is definitely on top. Right now I’d say my top 5 are:
We’re still very far from the primaries though. It’s likely that my list will shift around once the field thins out and we get to hear more from the remaining candidates. For that matter, this early in the game those numbers may shift around by the time I wake up in the morning.