Winners and Losers from CNN’s Democratic Debate

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In true Vegas style, let’s run through the Democratic debate’s big winners and big losers.

The Winners

Hillary Clinton

The former Secretary of State may finally be righting the ship of her flailing campaign. Clinton had two goals – remind voters why she is running and prevent any other (announced or prospective) candidate from gaining more momentum. She did both –laying out five-point plans, finding clear areas of distinction with her opponents and responding crisply when challenged. She did a great job of showing that, given the current field, she is the only one you really want to be at the top of the ticket in the general election.

Bernie Sanders

One of the best snippets of pre-debate analysis came from Rick Klein, “The race will come down to Hillary vs. an anti-Hillary, and one of those slots is already taken for good.” Last night, Sanders made a strong case for the other slot.

Sanders stuck to the issues and tenor that have allowed him to gain momentum. His supporters will love it, the money will keep coming in and Sanders will continue to be taken seriously. One weakness for Sanders was foreign policy. While his anti-war rhetoric last night will be appreciated by the base, his failure to delve into specifics could hurt him down the road.

Martin O’Malley

One of my favorite Saturday Night Live lines so far this season came when Colin Jost referred to Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley as “the three Joseph A. Bank mannequins running for president.” Last night, O’Malley successfully set himself apart from Webb and Chafee. He won’t skyrocket in the polls, but he put himself in a solid “second-tier” behind Clinton and Sanders. It’s small, but a win nonetheless.

Hillary Clinton’s E-mails

Years from now, Sanders’ “damn e-mails” line will be played as a great moment in presidential debates. In five bombastic seconds, Sanders was able to do what Clinton has been trying to do for months. I am by no means saying this issue is going away for her (the Republicans would be foolish not to keep talking about it), but last night’s debate provided Clinton and the Democratic party an opportunity to start playing offense rather than defense on the e-mails.

The Losers

Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee

Honestly, what were they doing up there? It’s time for both of them to go home. One piece of advice for Jim Webb – if you are going to complain about not having enough time, don’t spend the time you do have arguing for more time. Not only were viewers embarrassed for you, they stopped listening.

Common Core and, really, any Education Issue

We got some discussion of college affordability last night, but next to nothing on K-12 education. The failings of our education system are well-acknowledged by candidates in both parties and last night was a missed opportunity for Democrats to address plans to improve educational outcomes. Who thought that K-12 education would come up in the Republican debates before it came up in the Democratic debates?

Don Lemon, Juan Carlos Lopez and Dana Bash

Anderson Cooper was masterful last night – he kept the candidates in line, forced them to answer his questions and used their own words to challenge their evolution (read: flip-flops) on issues. What you may have forgotten is that Cooper was joined by three other talented journalists who got little air time and were marginalized in their questioning. It was embarrassing for CNN and a very unfortunate part of last night’s debate.

Bonus Coverage for Oddsmakers

Joe Biden

After last night, the looming question for Democrats is how the Vice President fits into the race. Biden has the ability to challenge Clinton on experience and Sanders on passion. The concern is that Clinton looked the strongest she has looked in the campaign and, based on reports of Sanders fundraising off the debate, he is not going anywhere for now. There is room for a candidate of Biden’s caliber in the race, but I think the moment has come for him to get into the race if he is going to do it.

Winners and Losers from CNN’s Democratic Debate

US_Democratic_Party_Logo.svg

In true Vegas style, let’s run through the Democratic debate’s big winners and big losers.
The Winners
Hillary Clinton
The former Secretary of State may finally be righting the ship of her flailing campaign. Clinton had two goals – remind voters why she is running and prevent any other (announced or prospective) candidate from gaining more momentum. She did both –laying out five-point plans, finding clear areas of distinction with her opponents and responding crisply when challenged. She did a great job of showing that, given the current field, she is the only one you really want to be at the top of the ticket in the general election.
Bernie Sanders
One of the best snippets of pre-debate analysis came from Rick Klein, “The race …

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