*Full Disclosure* I did not see the entire debate last night, although I caught most of it. So, if there’s something that you saw that struck you as critical that I don’t talk about, it simply means I missed it, sorry.
Several people had good nights, in fact their best of the campaign. Amy Klobuchar for one. Beto O’Roarke for sure. And Pete Buttigieg had a whole series of snappy single or double sentence zingers that landed. And Joe Biden was the best he’s looked so far, swatting away criticism and jabs as the ineffective mostuiro bites that they were. Elizabeth Warren ruled her roost, with nobody directly challenging her, which will have to end soon.
Sadly, we’ve seen the last substantive, front runner laden debate for the year. Because the DNC made the ridiculous and short sighted decision to leave the criteria for the October debate the same as the September debate, we are going to have at least two, if not three, useless bottom feeders like Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and possibly Tim Ryan cluttering up the stage, once again forcing multiple nights, and tearing apart the people we really need to see competing against each other directly.
Just a few observations. First, Beto moved the goalposts on the gun debate last night. He forcefully came out and stated, “Hell yeah! We’re gonna take your AK-47’s, and we’re gonna take your AR-15’s! Those have no place on American streets!” Based on the crowd response, in gun friendly Texas yet, that is now the ultimate goal of Democratic gun control, removal of assault weapons from the street. And while the position is unlikely to survive into the general election, what stating it directly did do is to make “voluntary” assault weapons buybacks a more moderate, centrist position. Personally, I have no problem with Beto’s stance, since anybody who sleeps with their AR-15 ain’t voting for a Democrat regardless.
While Beto stole the show with his passion on the gun violence issue, I believe the best smack down of the night was presented by Pete Buttigies. Bernie was busy being Bernie, foaming at the mouth about the evils of private insurance, and demanding that only he and the federal government could provide healthcare. Mayor Pete advocated for private insurance options, with a public buy in option for Medicare, and then he stomped Bernie into the mud. He said something like,” If people like their present insurance, they can keep it. If not, they have the option to get Medicare. If the majority of Americans opt for the Medicare option, it will become Medicare for all, because nobody will buy private insurance. I trust the American people to make intelligent decisions regarding their healthcare, why can’t you?” The crowd ate it up, and Bernie’s enraged response only made him look silly.
Forget the polls, here’s how the top tier really shakes out. Joe Biden is in first, Elizabeth Warren is in second, and Bernie Sanders is in third. I know, most polls show Bernie ahead by a point or two, but here’s why I think it doesn’t matter. In the next month or two, the field is going to start thinning out. A lack of airtime, leading to a lack of oxygen, leading to a lack of fundraising, is going to start winnowing the herd. A good number of those supporters of lower tier candidates may not consider Biden to be their first choice as a replacement, they may prefer Warren or Sanders. But remember, primaries are base supporter affairs, and the vast majority of Democratic base voters are still stone cold fucking pissed at Sanders for his treatment of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries and beyond. Given a linear choice, I believe the majority of Democratic base voters will gravitate to either Biden in order to get this over with, or to Warren as a snub to Bernie. I may be worng, but I think that Bernie’s support is about as high as it’s going to get.
adios, Julian! Last night, Julian Castro broke the cardinal rule in the 2020 Democratic primaries with his attack on Joe Biden’s memory, intentional or unintentional. Democratic voters don’t mind policy contrasts, hell, that’s why we’re watching the debates, but in the age of Trump, they will not tolerate personal assaults on any candidate. This is the second warning. Kamala Harris shot up in the polls after her attack on Biden’s civil rights record, because it was a relevant line. Before the second debate I warned Kamala not to go there again, but she did. This time, voters saw it as a piling on cheap shot, and Harris sank like a stone, and hasn’t recovered since. Castro had and has nowhere near either the support, nor the gravitas that Harris has, I think he’s toast.
But here’s the biggest takeaway coming out of last nights debate. What you see is what you get, deal with it. In the RCP poll tracking average, Joe Biden has a stable, if not overpowering lead of 12-14 points. As the bottom tier candidates drop out, Biden will get a percentage of supporters who just want this whole thing over with, so we can all bash Trump over the head with a 2×4 full time. As I said, I believe that Warren will get the lions share of the rest, but even if Warren and Sanders split them evenly, the math is still the same. Biden has a lock on the centrist vote, abd when lower tier candidates like Booker and Klobuchar depart, he’ll likely pick up the majority of those voters. There are a finite number of farther left progressive voters, and even if Warren gets the lions share, there just aren’t enough lower tier voters to get Warren within 3-5 points of Biden. As long as Warren and Sanders both stay in the race, and as long as Biden doesn’t trip over his own shoe laces, he can ride this stable lead to the finish line.
So, there it is. We will have one more fractured debate in October, with a bunch of bottom tier candidates taking desperate pot shots at the front runners, trying for a hail Mary, and then no more debates until after the holidays. And once the holidays are over, we’re only a month away from Iowa and New Hampshire, when shit gets real. Anything can happen in politics, just like in sports, but unless there’s some totally unexpected, earth shattering development, the only difference I see between now and Iowa is the field getting smaller.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen