The second Democratic debate was pivotal. With the prerequisites for the third debate increasing (polling threshold being 2% in five polls, and the number of individual donors doubling) many needed to make their case or their campaign is essentially over. There was no shortage of drama the two nights, but who will see their stock increase the most? I'll be ranking those winners and losers in order. Anyone not mentioned is seen as steady.
Any inclination that Bernie may have lost his luster or aggressiveness can now be silenced. Snapping back at many of his moderate opponents, Sen. Sanders made clear that he's still a fighter and that he's not going anywhere. If you want a quote to sum up Bernie's night, take his response to Tim Ryan who claimed Bernie didn't know what Medicare for All would cover:
"I do know, I wrote the damn bill!"
Warren, like Sanders, had to defend her progressive policies against a stage filled with moderates. Warren did a great job explaining that Medicare for All isn't taking healthcare away from anyone, a claim that is essentially a Republican talking point. Not only that, but she eviscerated John Delaney essentially ending his campaign by asking why people are running for president talking about "what we can't do" and "what we can't fight for."
The most eccentric candidate on the stage, the author framed her points of view incredibly well (except for her answer on Medicare for All). Saying that reparations are "a payment of a debt that is owed." She'll see a bump that might get her to debate three, but we'll see.
Medicare For All
Medicare for All withstood the moderate attacks with Warren and Sanders as champions, leaving moderate policies such as the public option and expanding ACA looking lackluster. The attacks from Delaney and Hickenlooper seemed incredibly baseless and "meh."
The congresswoman from Hawaii absolutely eviscerated Kamala Harris, bringing up her long record of incarcerating non-violent drug offenders, and locking up mothers for their kids' truancy. It made Tulsi look incredibly strong, and her ability to speak eloquently and succinctly will be well noted. Will it get her to the third debate? Maybe. Still, a strong showing.
Booker was relentless in his attacks against Vice President Biden. Not only that, but he was able to contrast himself with the rest of the field in doing so. I think he'll see a slight polling bump, but he's on the fringe in terms of the third debate.
I almost feel bad for him. The former right-hand man to Barack Obama was attacked constantly by just about every other candidate on stage. His moderate policy on climate change, working with segregationists, middling criminal justice reform, and pro-privatized healthcare got him absolutely nowhere. Not only that, but his constant reference of Obama became tired and meaningless. He'll see another huge downturn in support, and I think we'll start seeing polls with other candidates in the lead.
She was absolutely wrecked by Tulsi Gabbard. She finally had to be held accountable for her record, and the news outlets are certainly going to be talking about it. Sadly for Harris, up until now, the issue has been kept relatively under wraps. The senator from California should see a polling downturn.
He did virtually nothing to gain support. While he speaks pretty well (like a politician), he faded into the background really badly. It was make-or-break for him, and I think he now needs to step down and run for Texas' Senate seat, his home state where he is already popular and would have a fundraising advantage through transfers.
Delaney's centrism in attacking Sanders and Warren right out of the gate seemed incredibly petty. He essentially talked like a Republican the entire night. That, and he was completely and utterly wrecked by Warren. His campaign and political career are over.
The <1% In The Polls
Nobody at less than 1% did anything to separate themselves. Everyone at lower than 1% now should drop out at some point between now and the next debate.