Thursday, October 15, 2015
NOW, THAT WAS A DEBATE!
Democrats have every reason to be happy about Tuesday night’s first debate and proud of the candidates who are seeking to be the presidential nominee of their party.
The event attracted a far larger television audience than expected, and the reactions of viewers indicate they were not the least bit disappointed by what they were watching. The tone was tough but civil, as differences of opinion were expressed, often strongly. The content was wide-ranging, substantive, and never dull, thanks largely to the probing questions of moderator Anderson Cooper and his two colleagues. They did not let anyone avoid their questions!
The pace was lively, the time passed swiftly, and at the end those present and those watching on television had been given a good look at the candidates and an initial opportunity to compare and contrast them. With at least five more debates to come, voters will have a chance to modify or confirm their impressions.
It will be interesting to see how this debate impacts the polling. The overwhelming consensus of the media analysts was that Hillary Clinton "won” the debate, but that Bernie Sanders had also done well, and that Martin O’Malley had helped himself to some degree by his performance. Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb did not fare so well. In my view Hillary was the most informed, the best prepared, and by far the most “presidential” of the group. Martin O’Malley would be my second choice in that last regard.
The Sanders campaign had prepared their constituents for the debate, and Bernie mentioned more than once the huge number of his supporters who had gathered across the nation to watch the debate. Given the demographics of his constituency, I would suspect that they had been geared up to tweet their favorable responses to their champion’s performance and to encourage support from their contacts. That probably accounts for his impressively high number of comments on social media, along with the resulting $2,000,000 in new donations. He has certainly taken a page out of Barack Obama’s book on how to build a support base! He is a formidable contender.
Bernie also did well with the focus group I watched after the debate. They resonated, as have many others who have warmed to his message, with his intense attack on the unfair distribution of wealth in America. It was interesting, however, that when asked whether they could see him as President, hardly any hands went up.