Thoughts On Democratic Debate In Las Vegas

I’m late getting to this but I wanted to put out a few thoughts about last night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas.

First, welcome to the debate stage billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. After spending nearly half a billion on campaign ads, he finally got on the debate stage and had to face some heat.

And boy did he.

Within seconds of the beginning of the date, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who really, really needed a good night) ripped Bloomberg a new one.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

Warren followed that up later when the issue of women who had sued Bloomberg were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements. Warren was unrelenting.

Needless to say, Warren had that ‘good night’ she was shooting for. Over the next 24 hours, she reportedly raised over $5 million for her campaign.

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg landed some blows on both Bloomberg and Sen. Bernie Sanders for their ‘polarizing’ personas as well as not really being Democrats.

The other ‘big’ clashes of the evening were between Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Buttigieg. When Klobuchar was asked about a recent ‘oopsie’ in an interview when she couldn’t name the president of Mexico, Buttigieg pointed out she sits on important Senate committees that deal with Mexico. And, then Klobuchar started to unravel.

I’ll admit I was surprised to see Amy get so rattled, so unnerved. In the video below, her body language and voice really hyper-up as Buttigieg remains calm. At one point, Amy offered a snarky, “I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete.”

At another turn, she informed him that he hasn’t ‘been in the arena,’ apparently inferring the work mayors do isn’t important.

In reading other outlets today, I came to realize Klobuchar has a particular distaste for Buttigieg. She sees the attention he’s received and his rise in the polls as unfounded, and the result of white, male privilege.

I actually have my own idea as to why Buttigieg garnered the attention he did from the start of the race.

He was the new unknown. An openly gay, Rhodes scholar, Afghanistan veteran unknown who not only is well-spoken but speaks seven languages. He was a new story for folks to lean in to.

Buttigieg turned in good debate performances. And did well in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In any case, I think Klobuchar didn’t handle the moment well last night. She could have chosen to take a breath before responding. But, instead, she went on a rant that looked frantic. As an alternative, she could have just stated, in regard to the name of the Mexican president, “I was tired and the name slipped my mind. It happens to everyone.” And then, STOPPED TALKING. She would have served herself better, in my opinion.

Along the way, as no one was attacking former Vice President Joe Biden, he had one of his best debates of the primary season. It may help him do fairly well in Nevada and then next week in South Carolina. If Biden comes in second in Nevada, then wins South Carolina, he may recover some of his momentum.

Sanders entered the debate as the newly-anointed front-runner for the nomination and nothing in the debate changed that.

It’s worth noting that NBC News sent out a press release announcing the event was the most-watched Democratic debate ever, averaging nearly 20 million total viewers across the two networks, according to Nielsen Fast National Data.

The one take-away I have from last night that I think is important is about ‘big-picture.’

There are four moderate Democrats currently competing for the same moderate Democratic voters. And as such, they are getting only about 12-15 percent support each.

Meanwhile, Warren kind of faded after her poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire leaving the progressive lane to just Sanders. Thus, his rise in the polls.

Each state’s contests divide up delegates proportionately according to the votes received. BUT – delegates are proportionately allocated to candidates getting 15% or more in a primary or caucus.

If you don’t get to at least 15% you get nothing. If only one candidate gets 15%, the allocation is effectively winner-take-all.

If no candidate meets the 15% threshold, Democratic Party rules state the minimum to receive delegates will be 50% of the vote received by the front-runner.

Check out the delegate count below after two states’ contests. Only five candidates have earned delegates to date. Buttigieg and Sanders have nearly 3x the number of Warren or Klobuchar.

According to reports, Klobuchar’s surprise third-place finish in New Hampshire was great news for her campaign, but she apparently hadn’t invested in any campaign infrastructure in Nevada having focused on Iowa and New Hampshire.

So, many don’t expect her to do well this week.

MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki looked at the polling in upcoming states and it looks pretty grim for many of the remaining candidates other than Bloomberg (who’s literally spending millions and millions), Biden, and Sanders.

Notice that Harris and Klobuchar aren’t even registering in double-digits. And Buttigieg seems stuck at the 11-12 percent level. That means no delegates from those states if these numbers are even in the ballpark.

Take a look at the California numbers. If Sanders walks away with 32% of the delegates, and Warren, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg fail to even be viable gaining zero delegates – Sanders begins to amass a delegate count that could be insurmountable.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has been spending in other states like North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Arkansas – and it’s paying off for him. Now, after last night, we’ll have to see how those numbers stack up on Super Tuesday.

Finally, check this last graphic – Bloomberg is virtually the only Democrat with ads up in Virginia.

 

Needless to say, when you don’t win delegates, the campaign donations dry up. The next two weeks could very well boil this race down to two or three candidates.

We shall see.

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