The first set of Democratic debates (June 26th and 27th) had among them future leaders of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Unfortunately, we could see more losers than winners. The constraints of the debate are partially to blame with candidates only being given sixty seconds to answer. This usually resulted in people interrupting each other. This led to many candidates having bad performances especially those that were not assertive enough.
Coming into the debate Joe Biden was the obvious forerunner, but by the end of the debate it seemed like Biden was the loser. He only needed to have an at least a neutral performance, and it seems like he failed completely. His biggest enemy was his own record. This allowed him to be open for attacks from other candidates. Most of his time talking was Biden defending himself, instead of showcasing reasons to vote for him. One of his biggest mistakes was when he was defending himself from Kamala Harris. His allotted thirty second rebuttal time was up and instead of finishing his response he said “Anyway, my time is up”. This phrase perfectly summarizes his performance.
The winner of the debates would have to be California senator Kamala Harris. She was able to have several very memorable quotes along with leading the charge against Joe Biden. Her biggest moment was when she called out Biden for his recent comments about the “civility” of segregationist senators. The most powerful moment of the debate was her criticism of Biden over his stance of federally mandated bussing for students. She talked about her own experience as an African American girl and the benefits of bussing students for equality. This heartfelt speech helped over double her support from 7.9% to 16.6% after the debate.
Elizabeth Warren was another winner from the debate. She luckily was in the first night debate which allowed her to be the only major candidate in the debate. This allowed her to stand out far more than others. This was a major benefit to her poll numbers. She also had the added benefit of not being in the same debate as Bernie Sanders. Especially since they are both the most liberal candidates.
Bernie Sanders was…well Bernie Sanders. He talked about his universal healthcare and battling corporations. This election cycle though, he did not stand out as much. This is because many other candidates like Elizabeth Warren and others have begun supporting similar policies. While this change made Bernie less noticeable, it could be considered a win since he has helped shift the Democratic field farther to the left. Even with the more moderate candidates like Joe Biden seeking an expansion of the Affordable Care Act. This makes it seem like other candidates are #feelingthebern.
Overall, this first set of debates had some unexpected outcomes. With the forerunner Joe Biden being met with resistance from other candidates, and lesser known candidates like Kamala Harris gaining the spotlight. It will be interesting to see how the candidates either take advantage of the debate or recover from it.