Fourth Democratic Debate Primer

September 13th might not sound like a long time ago but in the political realm, it’s been an eternity. That was the date of the previous Democratic debate. On September 13th, Andrew McCabe hadn’t been recommended for indictment by the Justice Department. The subsequent Ukranian whistle-blower who wasn’t a witness stunt hadn’t been pulled yet. Bernie Sanders hadn’t had a heart attack. Bill DeBlasio was still in the race. There were just ten Democrats on the debate stage. Fast forward to today and all that stuff has happened along with two additional Democrats, making a total of twelve Democrats heading to the debate stage. What’s more, is that we have a new co-frontrunner, Elisabeth Warren.

For the top five Democrats, the only ones above five percent at any point over the past 32 days, here are the changes in their average polling since the last debate: 

  • Biden: 28% (+1)
  • Warren: 26% (+9)
  • Sanders: 15% (-2)
  • Buttigieg: 5% (flat)
  • Harris: 5% (-2)

Perception probably meets reality save a big caveat. I get the sense that perception is Elisabeth Warren has momentum in this race and is now a front-runner. That's true and she’s without a doubt the biggest winner since the previous debate. Where I think there’s a bit of a misconception is regarding Biden. While I can’t be certain, I’d be willing to bet that most voters would guess that Biden has less support today than at the time of the third debate. That’s not the case. He’s showing slightly higher support. The biggest difference is that Elisabeth Warren has capitalized on taking oxygen from the Sanders, Harris and lesser candidates, not that she’s taken support away from Biden. There’s no evidence of that having occurred. Biden and Warren will be in a head-to-head fight for supremacy. Bernie’s going to attempt to demonstrate he’s still viable as a candidate despite his health problems and every other candidate will be desperate to do anything to put points on the board. Outside of the top three candidates, all campaigns are nearing do or die status. Importantly, money is drying up for those campaigns and it’ll only get worse if they don’t show something new to justify the support. 

Photo by: Getty Images North America



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