Donald Trump enjoyed this one. Mini Mike Bloomberg was cut down to size early and often. Most frequently by Elizabeth Warren, who let it rip after being cautious in her past couple debate outings. Unfortunately for Warren, 70,000 Nevadans have already caucused. In 2016, a total of 84,000 showed up. Early voting will definitely boost turnout this time, but no matter what, a good 40% of the vote is in, maybe more.
She did what she needed to. Whether you cheered or booed her, it was the right move, delivered in the correct way, with the only tone she could have used to try and get back on track. If this doesn’t work. If she doesn’t reach viability in most caucus precincts and finish at least a strong third, then it was just too late and her candidacy was doomed.
Bernie Sanders has a super strong base, but there are some voters who could go either way between the two of them. We’ve seen these persuadable people move from 80/20 Warren in September, when she was 10 points up on Sanders to 90/10 Bernie now. I’m making these numbers up, but it’s in the ballpark. I think Warren probably moved a few of them back in her direction.
Speaking of Sanders, he did fine. He didn’t win every exchange with Bloomberg, but anyone who would vote for him in a caucus or primary thinks he did. Pete Buttigieg got under his skin several times, but the universe of voters who have Sanders and Mayor Pete in their top two is small. He avoided the normal pile-on-the-front-runner because Bloomberg was a more exciting target, and his opponents figured they needed to deal with the immediate obstacle before worrying about the huge delegate lead Sanders might have after Super Tuesday.
Welcome Back, Uncle Joe. We’ve missed you. Not sure who spiked his Wheaties this morning, but that person deserves a raise. He was punchy. He only lost his train of thought a few times. Biden was even shockingly robust in a postgame interview with Brian Williams. If he finishes fourth or fifth again in a state with better demographics for him, after the Culinary Union came out against Medicare for All, when he delivered his best debate performance, then he has no hope. This should have saved second or third place for him, but we lack any data to prove it.
Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are fighting a zero sum game to the death. There is no room for both. Too many candidates are ahead of them for the hearts, minds, and votes of people of color. Outside of Iowa and New Hampshire, there aren’t enough semi-moderate, decently educated, not that young white Democrats to make both of them competitive, especially when Bloomberg and Biden also exist.
They’re not total clones. Buttigieg is ahead of her. He does better with voters under 50, better with low-mid income voters, and better with Latinos. That’s why he’s in low double digits nationally, and she’s still in single digits. You’d need to add them together, and take back some of what Bloomberg has grabbed to have a true contender. The good news for them is that even if this didn’t kill Bloomberg (and it likely didn’t), he will have lost some voters back to them, but also some African Americans back to Biden. So their hill to get ahead of Joe just got a little higher.
Warren’s mini-renaissance will take a few somewhat liberal voters from Pete and a few voters who want a female nominee from Klobuchar. All of which gets back to no room for both. I think Buttigieg got the best of this exchange. Klobuchar was hardly a disaster. It’s the reverse of how New Hampshire went, with the difference that Warren overshadowed both this time. I do think it will keep Klobuchar from contending in Nevada. I’m not sure if the math will allow Buttigieg to repeat the perfect voting efficiency he got in Iowa.
Tom Steyer wasn’t there. And I think it hurt him as much as it possibly could have, given that the one person who got clobbered wasn’t on the ballot, and those competing with him mostly elevated themselves. He does have the benefit of all the banked early votes. Beyond that, don’t want to speculate. More data plz.
Back to the Bloompocalpse. The second hour version, was what I expected. Flat delivery, a bit slow at times, not familiar with how to wedge himself in when he wants to slam someone like the others are. If that guy had shown up in the first hour, it would have cost him a point or two in the polls, and a good South Carolina performance would set him up for a very interesting Super Tuesday.
But that first hour. Some terrific sound bites if any of his opponents have the money to use them on TV/Facebook. It will stop his momentum in its tracks until he can prove he’s better next time. He’s now more dependent on what candidates finish in which order in Nevada and then South Carolina. Biden got a bit of an adrenaline shot. Buttigieg could move past him with a better than expected Nevada result.
Donald Trump won the debate. The candidates hit each other 10 times for each time he was mentioned. We’ll see who truly finished second when the Nevada results are in.