There were only six people on the stage tonight. No Tom Steyer, no Andrew Yang and welcome Michael Bloomberg.
A very interesting and combative debate tonight. Plenty of attacks on Bloomberg. Sanders got some attacks, but not as many as the front-runner would normally expect. Pete and Amy don’t like each other and that showed.
The first hour or so was electric. All of the attacks on Bloomberg came out. They asked about the socialist thing with Bernie. Bloomberg called it communism. Amy asked if Pete was calling her dumb. It was really a fun debate from that perspective.
When I get to my ranking, I’m going to go into who I think did the best in the actual debate. But if you want to say whether the debate performances will have an effect on the vote in Nevada or South Carolina or beyond, that’s harder to say. Looking at this issue, I think Bernie came out ahead, even though his debate performance was just OK. He wasn’t attacked and, as the front runner, that means he’s a winner. Bloomberg was terrible in the debate, but how many people actually watched the debate? Are his ads going to save his overall standing in the race? Warren was probably the best in the debate (not just me saying it), but will it actually help her? Maybe not.
On to the ranking:
- Elizabeth Warren – Really good debate. She attacked effectively Bloomberg. A little less effective when she did her scattershot attacks on a bunch of candidates at a time. With the time limits, doing serial attacks like that probably were good tactics, since there was never going to be enough time for everyone to respond. She got a really good response from the crowd on her 2 cent wealth tax, which actually does poll really well.
- Joe Biden – Joe attacked judiciously but didn’t overdo it. Some of his answers were just straight out of his plans, but for Joe that may be a good thing. Joe may have benefitted from Bloomberg having a bad debate. He looks pretty progressive next to Republican-lite Bloomberg.
- Bernie Sanders – Part of the reason I put Bernie here is that he really wasn’t attacked. If you’re the front-runner and you don’t get attacked, you had a pretty good debate. There was some attempt to pin Bernie down on the cost of his healthcare plan. He avoided a straight answer as he usually does and just talked about healthcare as a human right and the US is the only developed country that hasn’t figured it out. He also skated on the transparency of his medical records and his online supporters. I did appreciate that he disavowed anyone attacking people online and said they’re not part of his movement. I suspect I may use that line in my own discussions with Bernie supporters online.
- Pete Buttigieg – I liked Pete’s line about how we should nominate a Democrat. We shouldn’t have to choose between someone who wants to burn the party down and another person who wants to buy the party out. Deduct points for the Pete-Amy squabbles.
- Amy Klobuchar – For me, Amy won the last debate. She was off her game tonight. Part probably because Warren had such a good debate and that took some of the space she could have had. Also, she lost in the squabble with Pete. She more clearly than Pete showed her dislike for him. He might also dislike her, but he hides it better.
- Mike Bloomberg – Just a terrible debate. He wasn’t prepared for questions that should have been obvious. If you’ve seen his ads and then saw this debate, you might not recognize the man tonight. One thing he did better than everyone else, was talk about beating Trump. I’m just not sure Bloomberg can beat him and I don’t think he represents the Democratic values we want our nominee to have. I’ll vote for him if he’s the nominee, but he’s likely down here at the bottom in my overall candidate ranking as well.