The Second Debate Mix: What To Expect

The second Democratic Presidential debate will take place on Thursday, June 27 from 9-11 pm on NBC and MSNBC.

It includes the following ten candidates:

Joe Biden

Bernie Sanders

Pete Buttigieg

Kamala Harris

Kirsten Gillibrand

Michael Bennet

Marianne Williamson

Eric Swalwell

John Hickenlooper

Andrew Yang

The group includes the former Vice President and US Senator; four other US Senators; a member of the House of Representatives; a Mayor; a former Governor; and two independent, out of government candidates.

This debate has more of the so called “heavyweights”—Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris—with the other six candidates seen as much weaker in likelihood of long term survival.

Joe Biden must defend himself as the clear front runner, and avoid any more gaffes, after some controversial statements about his past ability to cross the aisle and work with past racial segregationists, as well as his continued habit of touching and hugging women and children, violating their personal space. He could be harmed by a poor performance, but one must remember how good he was in debates in 2008, and against Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan in Vice Presidential debates in 2008 and 2012.

Bernie Sanders will come across strongly, but has many concerned that he cannot carry the nation in the upcoming Presidential election, with the fact that he embraces the word “Socialist”, which can be abused by Trump and the Republicans against him. He will be engaged in major combat with Biden for sure, as Sanders attempts to overtake him in future polls and fundraising.

Pete Buttigieg has been involved in a major crisis as South Bend, Indiana Mayor, with the recent murder of a black man by city police, and he is under attack for the racial troubles involving the law enforcement community. He should do well in the debate, but can he overcome the massive lead of Biden and Sanders over the rest of the contenders, is the question.

Kamala Harris should come on strong as well, but will need to clarify her stand on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which she compared months ago to the Ku Klux Klan. The assumption is that she will continue to flourish and possibly grow in support.

Some people think Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang, outsiders who clearly have great ideas and intellect, might shine, but somehow, this author and blogger does not see it succeeding.

Of the remaining four, it seems to this author and blogger that Eric Swalwell has the best shot of survival, just a gut feeling, but that Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, and John Hickenlooper have little chance of lasting much beyond the first couple of months of the debate season.

My gut feeling is that out of this group that Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris, Swalwell, and possibly Williamson and Yang will survive to go on for another day.

This would make the 20 candidates diminish to 12—-and one can say only possibly Steve Bullock, Montana Governor, who was not allowed in the first set of debates, might still have a shot of those few who are not in this debate, leaving Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts, and the new announced candidate, former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak, out in the cold.

So expect out of 23 candidates, 13 will make it to the future debates.

19 comments on “The Second Debate Mix: What To Expect

  1. Princess Leia June 26, 2019 12:12 pm

    Personally, we call ICE Trump’s Gestapo.

  2. Pragmatic Progressive June 27, 2019 9:30 pm

    Nice to hear Mayor Pete and Kirsten Gillibrand explaining how Medicare For All would work and explaining that it’s ok to have a hybrid system, like the UK, for example. Specifics is what I want to hear from Bernie, yet he gets so defensive every time you ask him to give specifics.

  3. Princess Leia June 27, 2019 9:43 pm

    Nailed it, Pragmatic. That’s what irks me about Bernie.

  4. Former Republican June 27, 2019 9:49 pm

    First of all, very lively debate tonight.

    Trump is coming up so much more tonight than last night.

    Hickenlooper is afraid that Republicans will tar Democrats as “socialists.” He should stop worrying because no matter what Democrats propose, Republicans will use the s-word.

    It’s still early in the night, but Kamala Harris appears to be winning this thing. She’s been forceful and eloquent and savvy. She’s not winning the policy debate–she’s not really engaging in one–but she’s making a strong impression.

    Pete Buttigieg is the foil of candidates like Beto O’Rourke: A smooth talker who actually makes concise, crisp and logical arguments. His stock will continue to rise if he keeps this up.

  5. Former Republican June 27, 2019 9:49 pm

    My impression of the two frontrunners so far: Biden is rambling and Sanders is yelling.

  6. Pragmatic Progressive June 27, 2019 10:01 pm

    So far, Harris and Buttigieg are my favorites of this bunch. I find that listening to Harris and Buttigieg talk intelligently rather than argumentatively is what draws me in to what they have to say.

  7. Ronald June 27, 2019 10:02 pm

    I will comment tomorrow, but I agree with you, Pragmatic Progressive, on Harris and Buttigieg!

  8. Rustbelt Democrat June 27, 2019 10:42 pm

    Biden is finished. You heard it here first. Awful night. Harris is beyond superb. She’s gonna give Warren a run for her money.

  9. Ronald June 27, 2019 10:47 pm

    Rustbelt Democrat, I disagree on Joe Biden being finished.

    He may not be the nominee, but do not brush him off quite yet!

    Harris, Buttigieg, Swalwell, and Williamson have made a great impression, however!

  10. Rational Lefty June 27, 2019 10:53 pm

    Why were Williamson and Swalwell on the stage? They contributed absolutely nothing except wasting everyone’s time.

    Hickenlooper – came out of the gate showing he’s outdated.

    Not too impressed with Yang.

  11. Princess Leia June 27, 2019 10:59 pm

    I thought Marianne Williamson came off as kooky.

  12. Ronald June 27, 2019 11:02 pm

    Again, I will comment tomorrow in detail, but I really disagree with some of you on Eric Swalwell and Marianne Williamson, who I think really stood out, along with Harris and Buttigieg.

  13. D June 28, 2019 12:10 pm

    Here is an assessment of the 2020 Democratic presidential debate performances, of the second group of ten candidates, from June 27, 2019 (they are, within tiers, listed in alphabetical order):

    • Kamala Harris — Crafty responses to at least a couple questions. One of them was: “There’s a lot of talk in this primary about new government benefits, such as student-loan cancellation, free college, health care, and more. Do you think Democrats have a responsibility for how they will pay for every proposal they make along those lines?” Harris’s response: “Well, let me tell you something: I hear that question, but where was that question when the Republicans and Donald Trump passed a tax bill which benefits the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations in this country—contributing at least one trillion dollars to the debt of America, which middle class families will pay for one way or another?” That, in a way, was a softball question. But, what is telling is how well a candidate takes his or her swing. It reveals whether he or she is politically aware. (Harris is.)
    • Bernie Sanders — When it comes to the key domestic issues, the Democratic presidential candidates of 2020 divide in two: Bernie Sanders—followed by everyone else. What I mean is this: Medicare for All and free college tuition were dominant in the debates and discussions both Night #01 and Night #02 of these 2020 Democratic debates. They are the top two issues for this political party. There is no way for another candidate—who would like to win the nomination (and for it to not go to Bernie Sanders)—to avoid taking on these key domestic issues. These 19 other candidates’ positions are either there or partially there or nearly there—informing these candidates where they need to be positioned. Sanders was given questions from NBC News, starting with raising taxes (“Will taxes go up for the middle class in a Sanders administration—and, if so, how do you sell that to voters?”), for which he had no problem fielding—and staying on message—and he also scored with bringing up the Iraq War vote of the 47th U.S. vice president, which addresses a candidate’s judgment, while he served in the U.S. Senate

    • Pete Buttigieg — He fared notably better than the first-night debate performance of the 2018 U.S. Senate nominee from Texas; but, Buttigieg, despite being well-composed, is not supporting Medicare for All—being on the same page as the 2018 U.S. Senate nominee from Texas—and Buttigieg wants to limit free college tuition for only particular people. If policy issues, and the positions of candidates, were not critical, Buttigieg would have more potential for the nomination. But that is not where we are at in this specific period
    • Kirsten Gillibrand — She did a lot of what the mayor of New York, New York did on Night #01: Insert herself in particular moments and boast of her record. This is smart. But, a lot of what Gillibrand says—that she led the way on shaping bills in the U.S. Senate—calls for a fact check. And some of what Gillibrand said reminds me of claims made by Hillary Clinton during the primaries debates for 2016
    • Marianne Williamson — She had moments of insights and thinking outside some boxes, which can get an unfamiliar viewer and voter to want to know more. Williamson was not strongly memorable, which is something very hard to achieve given the limiting structure of the debates (and the too-numerous count of candidates sharing the stage), but she did fine
    • Andrew Yang — He addressed technology and universal basic income. Yang wants a triple-up economy. Value gains. Increased GDP. Recognizes automation taking away jobs. A lot of what Yang says calls for more focus in a debate structure not friendly to sufficiently giving more consideration to the specifics offered by Yang. But, what he has to say is enough for one to want to know more

    • Joe Biden — He waxed nostalgic over his past record (especially during the Obama presidency), for what he figured of it was good (of course), but Biden was piled on by two candidates from California. (One was about his age; one was about his waxing nostalgic with dealing with racist U.S. Senate colleagues and about opposing school busing.) This was, no doubt, regarding Biden on the matter of his being generally out of touch
    • Michael Bennet — Pushed for a status-quo, pro-corporate approach—a deliberate avoidance of supporting, and also with expressed opposition to, Medicare for All—and he came across with much of the same stances as his fellow “opponent” from Colorado
    • John Hickenlooper — The worst performance from this group! As the prior Governor of Colorado, Hickenlooper boasted of a progressive record; but he spoke against socialism—and democratic socialism and socialism (which are polling more favorably now with millennial voters)—while not offering compelling proposals on how to address the issues. He gave little or nothing. It was more about what he is against than what he is for
    • Eric Swalwell — His moment was going after the 47th U.S. vice president; but, Swalwell comes across like only gun control is his interest—but that he doesn’t much of one on, say, Medicare for All. While he does compliment millennials as the generation that will change the U.S. for the better, he leads me to the same conclusion as I have with the senior U.S. senator from Minnesota: I don’t get a sense of why I would need to vote the nomination to Swalwell

    Here is an outstanding moment from the debate:

  14. Former Republican June 28, 2019 12:18 pm

    I thought that was an excellent comeback from Buttigieg on the “free tutition” charade. The rich don’t need help paying for college. Additionally, colleges are currently doing the work that high schools used to do. It’s a travesty that young people are having to pay tuition for training that they should receive in their public high schools. You heard me right: FEWER people should be going to college.

  15. Pragmatic Progressive June 28, 2019 12:28 pm

    I’m in agreement with this assessment about the debates.

    The mood of the country was very different during the 2000 election when a lot of attention was paid to the question about which presidential candidate you’d rather have a beer with. But then came 9/11, and seven years later, the Great Recession. By 2008, people were more interested in hope and change. The election of 2016 was a backlash to that change for the people who felt threatened not only by the first African-American president but also the country’s rapidly changing demographics.

    It can be helpful to think about the first Democratic debate through the lens of attempting to understand the “mood” of Democrats in 2020. There has been an attempt to understand Biden’s lead in polls through the lens of the electability question and assume that is because, as a white male, he is the safe choice. I suspect there is a lot of truth to that assumption. But lurking behind that is the constant rage and chaos spurred by the presidency of Donald Trump. It is also very possible that Democrats are looking for the candidate that can bring back some good old-fashioned stability.

    It is through that lens that I think Josh Marshall is on to something with his analysis of Thursday night’s debate. He notes that political analysis is too often focused on text and misses the subtext.

    The big winner tonight was Kamala Harris. She was consistently strong in her answers…Somewhat like Booker last night but much more so, she took possession of the room and turned it to her advantage. She repeatedly kept talking until she was done talking and did it without sounding rude or grating. She could do that because she embodied command. She made the moderators sound annoying. She continually showed through actions rather than words that she’s powerful, that she commands the room, that she shapes the moment rather than being shaped by it. This sort of demonstration of command is always important. It’s especially important when the ultimate opponent is Donald Trump.

    Taking command of a room is something that is almost impossible to quantify. But it stems from the kind of self-confidence that allows someone to put ego gratification aside and speak in the moment thoughtfully, rather than defensively. It is particularly profound when combined with a high level of intelligence—both intellectual and emotional. In other words, it is the exact opposite of Donald Trump. Instead of joining the president in the gutter, the candidate who embodies that kind of self-confidence will command the room, making him look small and weak.

    Marshall is right that Kamala Harris took command of the room on Thursday night and that Booker demonstrated the same thing, although not as powerfully, on Wednesday night. But I would add Julian Castro to the group —which is precisely why he surprised so many people and garnered a lot of attention.

    On the other end of the spectrum, Biden came off a bit rattled and confused, which is why his performance was confounding to those who have seen him be able to take command of a room. While some pundits are giving Kirsten Gillibrand points for what she accomplished in the debate, it is worth noting that they are almost always focused on the text of what she said rather than this kind of subtext. On the latter, she came off as a bit desperate and defensive. Finally, the text of what Sanders had to say was nothing new, which is why he gets points for consistency. But where his rageful yelling captured the moment for a lot of people in 2016, voters are in a very different place right now. The specter of the next president being someone who waves their arms, shouts, and talks about the need for a revolution is not going to play well with Democrats this time around because it signals more chaos.

    There is still a lot that will effect this race, where voting doesn’t even begin for another six months. So the result of this debate will not necessarily be determinative. But we’ll see an increase in support for Harris, Booker, and Castro based on their performance. Polling at FiveThirtyEight following Wednesday night’s debate is pointing in that direction: both Castro and Booker got the biggest bump in their overall favorability numbers compared to where they stood prior to the debate.

    While the candidates all had a lot of important things to say, the three who took command of the room are the ones who did the best job of tapping into the subtext of the 2020 election for Democrats.

  16. Princess Leia June 28, 2019 12:57 pm

    The other night one of the MSNBC shows ran a clip of Bernie from about 20 years ago and he seemed so much more reasonable, intelligent and interesting than he is now. I could support that earlier version of Bernie. I guess that shows my own preference for less “angry” shouty candidates.

  17. Southern Liberal June 28, 2019 12:59 pm

    Bernie’s speaking style can be refreshing or it can be grating, depending on your perspective. Biggest problem was that he continued to go into a default statement about Wall Street and big corporations on almost any topic, when specificity dealing with the topic at hand more directly would have been better.

  18. Former Republican June 28, 2019 1:02 pm

    He doesn’t have plans and specifics, that’s why he keeps cycling back to his stump speech.

  19. Southern Liberal June 28, 2019 1:10 pm

    My ticket right now is Warren/Harris or Warren/Castro or some combination of that.

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