Other responses to Democratic debate

I have since read some of the reviews of the debates and was surprised to see many of them thinking that Hillary Clinton came out best last night, which was not the impression that I had at all. She was ok and did not make any major blunders but she seemed very equivocal on many issues compared to all the others, except for Webb who was hard to pin down.

Jeb Lund had a good summary of last night’s debate.

Republican operative and pollster and Fox News regular Frank Luntz convened a focus group, as he always does with these events, and monitored the responses of these 28 self-identified Democrats during the debate and discussed it with them afterwards. One should be a little cautious about these things because both the focus group and the snippets of information he gives out at the end can be manipulated. But as far as this group was concerned, it seemed Sanders won hands down, with about half of them coming in as Clinton supporters and many of them changing their minds after the debate.

Some observers are suggesting that by taking the email issue off the table, Sanders lost the one issue that could wean Clinton supporters away from her and to him. But at least as far as this focus group was concerned, that was Sanders’s finest moment. But it turned out that Sanders was the one who sparked most interest on Google searches during the debate and on Twitter, though that may be because most people may already think they know enough about Clinton.

But could this be yet another manifestation of what we have seen so far, that ordinary people are reacting to Sanders much better than the professional political-media class, because the former care about issues while the latter care more about theatrics?


  1. Chiroptera says

    …because the former care about issues while the latter care more about theatrics?

    I suspect that the professional pundits and mainstream journalists are still flogging the Narrative that Sanders is a far left wacko extremist whose popularity is an ephemeral phenomenon, and that any day now — ANY DAY NOW! — people are going to come to their senses and go back to the safe, reliable, sensible, reasonable centrist candidate.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    Sanders speaks Twitter — he had great sound bites. That doesn’t say much about the value of his policies, but a lot about his electability.

  3. lanir says

    I thought the debate went well in general. Sanders has the talking point about getting support from people by continuing to focus on campaigning for issues once in office but that didn’t show up here for a general audience. I recall all the candidates but O’Malley got at least one really challenging question specifically for them (I may just be forgetting O’Malley’s). O’Malley seemed to have it really together and made a strong showing although I strongly disagree with him on some things.

    This was feeling like a trial run on the part of the candidates though. Some things they should all learn from this debate are to only call out the other people who voted with them on issues when they got things right. People want you to own your mistakes and tell them you’ve learned something. On a similar note, personal tragedy is understandable and very human but not a good excuse for helping to put thousands of other Americans through their own personal tragedies. And never complain about debate time. It’s obvious where the time is going but spending your limited amount of time being ornery about procedural issues will not help you look presidential. These are just my opinions but I think these things are where the candidates looked the weakest.

  4. Chiroptera says

    Some observers are suggesting that by taking the email issue off the table, Sanders lost the one issue that could wean Clinton supporters away from her and to him.

    And I have much more respect for Sanders’ opinion of the purpose of elections than for the opinions of those observers.

    The observers feel that elections are just sporting events and that it’s weird when candidates don’t do anything and everything they can to win.

    Sanders obviously feels that elections are to allow the voters to choose between candidates based on whose policies would be the best for the country. He doesn’t think the emails are a significant issue, and he wants the voters to judge between him and Clinton based on how they feel about the significant issues. It’s quite possible that he isn’t a terrible egoist who is determined to win no matter what.

    If a voter thinks the emails are a significant issue, then they should take it into account when they decide for whom to vote for. On the other hand, they shouldn’t dwell on the emails just because it helps Sanders.

    Also, I would hope that Sanders realizes that Clinton may very well win despite anything Sanders can do. If Clinton should win despite Sanders waging a campaign designed to badly damage her, then she runs against a Republican candidate as a badly damaged Democratic candidate. That can’t help her win the general election.

    In fact, this is one of the reasons I hope the race for the Democratic nomination stays professional and relatively amiable: if the Republicans need to spread dirt for advantage, then let them do the dirty work of spreading it. Don’t waste our resources to do their work for them.

    Also, the uglier and dirtier the campaigns get, the more disillusioned and disengaged the losing candidate’s supporters will be when the nomination is “stolen” from them. I’ve said this before, it is important that all the likely Democratic supporters can switch their support to the winning candidate and not have an excuse to sit this election out.

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