27 June 2019

A couple of observations on the debate

The first debate seems to have gone well, considering the limitations imposed by the excessive number of candidates.  Infighting and attacks on rival Democrats were kept to a minimum, and the focus was on substantive ideas, though the limited speaking time didn't allow for much depth.  Chuck Todd tried to maneuver candidates into producing sound bites that could be used against them, but they avoided the trap.  For detailed analysis, see Electoral-Vote.

The consensus seems to be that Warren performed the best -- more importantly, she showed the kind of political savvy that should inspire confidence in her effectiveness as a candidate in the general.  In short, she went a long way toward showing that she's electable.  Some recent polling has already shown her moving into (a still-distant) second place behind Biden, and this poll I cited on Sunday, in which Democrats were asked whom they would favor if electability weren't an issue, had her already in first place.  So yesterday's performance may help her substantially.

A couple of observations:

First, it will be a few days before we know the real impact of the debate (or of tonight's).  The "snap polls" run by some websites are self-selected samples and not indicative of anything about the general population.  It will take time for real pollsters to carry out scientifically-valid polls with proper samples and find out how the debates have moved the needle, if at all.

This is especially true since only a minority of potential voters are watching.  I've seen no reports of TV ratings for yesterday's broadcast yet, but party primary debates over the last decade have drawn audiences ranging from 3 million to 24 million, and this week's debates are unlikely to approach the upper end of that range.  An audience of, say, 15 million would be gargantuan compared with normal audiences for political TV, but still a small fraction of the 130 million who voted in 2016.  So most voters will get their impressions of the debates from media reports, snippets on YouTube, and so forth.  That will take time.

Second, the party needs to be focusing on the Senate as well as on the Presidency.  Even if a Democrat becomes President, failing to capture the Senate would leave the malignant Mitch McConnell in place to continue the shameless partisan obstruction he's notorious for.  Much, perhaps the majority, of the new President's agenda would be paralyzed; certainly major reforms to health care or taxation would be unreachable.  And our odds of re-taking the Senate would be a lot better if some of the no-hope candidates for President were to run for the Senate instead.

Waiting to try in 2022 isn't a viable option.  The Senate map that year will be much less favorable than in 2020, and in a non-Presidential year turnout is usually lower.  2020 is our best shot.  Once we do have real polling data about voter response to this week's debates, it will be time for the candidates who remain mired at the bottom to accept reality and switch to races they can actually win, where they'll be able to bring real benefit to the country.

Yes, the Presidency is the top prize in politics -- but helping to sweep McConnell aside so he can no longer undermine American democracy from within will be a great and honorable achievement in its own right.


Blogger Mary said...

You are absolutely right about McConnell.
Most of the news sources I’ve read today basically alternate between Warren, Castro, De Blasio and Booker as the winners and Beto as the loser and the rest kinda nothing.

27 June, 2019 10:22  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Yes. Liz showed what running for PRESIDENT looks and sounds like, I was most disappointed with Beto. Bummer. Tulsi needs to drop out.STAT.
And all of the fillers and stand-ins-for-a-book-deal should run for fucking Congress. Jeeez.


27 June, 2019 12:03  
Blogger Les Carpenter said...

My take, Warren, Booker, and Castro. In that order. Will be watching tonight as well.

You are certainly right about the need to take the Senate and sweep Mitch the bitch McConnell out of the Senate leadership position.

Job 1 - Dump Trump
Job 2 - Nueter Mitch the Bitch

27 June, 2019 16:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: I'd really love to see McConnell lose next year, or at least be relegated to the minority.

Sixpence: I think a lot of people started being able to actually picture Warren as President.

Rational: Those are the two biggest jobs, all right.

28 June, 2019 14:15  

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