The first round of Democratic debates is in the rearview mirror, and the dust is finally beginning to settle. There were some clear winners and some clear losers on each night of the debate (for our thoughts, look below), but now we can begin to look at the broader picture for the party. Here are some of the clear takeaways from the two nights of the debate.
The candidate who did the most for her own credibility in this primary on either night of the debate was Senator Kamala Harris of California. She had the most iconic moment of either debate during her clash with former Vice President Joe Biden.
Harris is now a strong contender for this nomination, and has unquestionably vaulted into the top tier. And it wasn’t just this moment. She showed poise and professionalism throughout the debate, and when others were bickering, Harris was typically standing above the fray.
Elizabeth Warren is a Contender
Much like Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren was the clear standout from debate night one. She was on a stage full of lesser candidates, which served her well, and while she did not have the memorable moments that Harris had, she escaped from the evening totally unscathed.
Despite the fact that she was one of the stronger candidates on the stage, none of her peers particularly attacked her, which left her free to talk about her policy proposals. And she has plenty of policy proposals. Warren is now standing as the most obvious threat to Senator Bernie Sanders on the progressive wing of the party, and considering the disastrous night he had on night two, she may be pulling ahead.
Biden and Sanders in Trouble
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It’s as true of politics as it is of physics. In this case, the rise of Harris and Warren could mean disaster for Sanders and Biden.
Warren and Sanders, as we discussed, have a more obvious one-to-one connection. They are both on the far progressive wing of the party. Each has played nice with the team “democratic socialism.” Warren presents a more intersectional alternative to the aging Sanders, whose presentation on Thursday night was a disaster.
Harris, on the other hand, is not necessarily a stand in for Biden on policy (she, too, leans further to the left than Biden ever has), but since her attack on Thursday was directly against him, she’s likely to climb as he falls.
It’s hard to know where the frontrunners stand, but if they begin to lose ground this early, it may be hard to stop the bleeding. Sanders and Biden need to find a way to guard their flank from these two strong and rising contenders.
Marianne Williamson is a Treasure
The other shooting star of the debates was clearly author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson. She may not be a traditional Presidential candidate (in fact, the word traditional doesn’t fit Williamson in any way), but she certainly grabbed some headlines… and some memes…
Her discussion of using love to combat President Trump was… unique, but it was also a lot of fun. Sometimes, politics still can be fun.
Unique Policies are the Name of the Game
Finally, a comment about the Democrats’ strategy overall. It seems like the Democratic party (as Williamson herself mocked) is the party of “plans.” There’s a plan for everything: for health care, for student loan debt, for immigration, and even… fur free money?
Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur and now Presidential candidate from New York. And he’s made waves recently with his proposal of a Universal Basic Income, essentially promising every American adult $1,000 a month no questions asked. We went into Yang and his proposal in detail here, so we’ll let you take a deeper look.
This is Only the Beginning
The reality is, this is only the beginning of the Democratic primary. We’re finally seeing our first real movement, but there’s no way of knowing what’s permanent and what’s temporary. That’s why we’ll continue to keep you in the loop as the weeks and months unfold. There’s over a year left until the 2020 election, if you can believe it. Plenty of time for more risers, more fallers, and more proposals.