Very quickly, the first round of Democratic Primary Debates was last night. Ignoring my disgust with their far left positions and only looking at how they presented themselves on stage, here is how I believe they fared and how their poll ratings will be affected. You may recall I did this in the Republican debates (to much acclaim!) Ratings are from -10 to +10.
Beto O’Rourke: -5. What can I say? He was not presidential, not strong in his presentation, and he looks twitchy. This performance busts him back to the minor leagues where he belongs.
Bill De Blasio: +4. Of the four strong white guys, he was the best in his presentation, very strong and polished speaker, he should gain a bit in the polls. If you don’t know anything about his past history, he might impress you a lot.
Amy Klobuchar: +2 She spoke calmly, made sense and was relaxed, and this made her stand out slightly. But she didn’t match the passion of some of the other speakers, and she didn’t have some of the unique stories to tell that might have made the focus go to her more. This will help her, and she is clearly better than most other candidates on stage, but not enough I think.
Tim Ryan: -4. Of the four strong white guys, he scores a distant third. I couldn’t get past his disturbing beady eyes. But he also did not stand out in terms of passion or policy. This performance hurts him a lot.
Cory Booker: +6. I despise Cory Booker, but his performance in the debates was a good one. He had the right balance of passion, and logic in his demeanor, his voice carried well and his confidence showed through. This performance should boost his numbers.
Tulsi Gabbard: -5. Tulsi managed to stand out with her unique anti-war perspective, but her manner was not presidential. In fact, I detected just a bit of “valley girl” in her manner that will sink her in any future debate. There may be a ‘dead cat bounce’ in her poll numbers but don’t count on her being taken seriously.
Elizabeth Warren: +1. She didn’t do anything spectacular to stand out, she used her typical academic approach, so I would say this performance was not a particular winner of anything. But, much like Trump in the Republican debates, she is one of the frontrunners, so not losing is a win for her. She was not hurt, and that is good enough.
Juan Castro: +7. Juan was fortunate that a lot of the initial questions were about immigration, and he was able to comment in depth. He fielded the questions deftly and was the center of focus of the debates for an extended time. He was confident, passionate and knowledgeable. From his relative obscurity, Castro is perhaps the biggest winner in the debate. He could easily get momentum from this, and could energize the Hispanic community. If he doesn’t win, this could put him into Vice Presidential contention.
John Delaney: -6 Of the four strong white guys, Delaney was the weakest. He seemed perpetually on the defensive, and his bids to take over the stage were never successful. I had never heard of him before, no reason to support him now, nothing to make him stand out
Jay Inslee: -1 Of the four strong white guys, Inslee was second to De Blasio. Inslee was strong and confident, in true governor fashion, but not as strong, confident and relaxed as De Blasio. And Inslee came across as unpleasant and unlikable. This might have been a win for him, had De Blasio not been on stage, but being number two in your category is not good in this case. A net loss for Inslee.