Ugh, 6 hours of debates took some time to digest.
Firstly I do like the time rules that CNN placed – they were very stingy with time and as soon as any candidate started pontificating or bloviating, they were cut off. It was great!!
Each of the 2 debates had very different dynamics based on their participants. The first featured the 2 far lefties Bernie and Elizabeth Warren and while they usually do a better job of controlling the conversation and driving a cohesive vision, the centrists came out SWINGING. They did a much better job of showing that they too can be passionate AND get stuff done. The second was “beat up on Joe Biden” night. Joe was prepared and came out fighting, showed he can take it tho, mostly.
The first debates last month annoyed me to no end because the candidates weren’t offered a chance to give an opening statement so each person just took their first chance (or two) to speak, ignored the question and just gave their opening statements then. Moreover, it generally encouraged them to say whatever talking point they wanted to and not ever try to stick to answering the actual asked question throughout.
I wanted to be prepared with a way to score them this time around. I came up with the following scale:
If the candidate had more than 1 chance to speak on a topic (like Biden, who was constantly being attacked so constantly got a chance to respond) their ratings were averaged for that topic. This was based on the quality of their answers, not necessarily if I agreed with it or not. The opening and closing statements were just graded on a flat 1-5 scale for how good they were.
The resulting table was stack ranked as an average of all of their answers (rightmost blue column):
Some quick thoughts from this:
- John Delany was the unexpected standout in this exercise. He was on topic, direct and made a great case for the moderates. I was really impressed, especially for someone who came out of nowhere
- Steve Bullock had a solid night too… as the other guy who came out of nowhere (and being his first time on stage, he didn’t qualify for the first debates), he spent more more time introducing himself which made for some off topic responses, but overall made a strong impact on me
- Bernie tends to goes off on a rant and then doesn’t answer the question
- Kamala Harris lost points by similarly not answering attacks against her, just saying “that’s not true” and not offering up any counter narrative why we should believe her
- Kirsten Gillibrand had a relatively solid performance marred by a rather lame open and close
- Bill di Blasio spent more time lobbing attacks and not actually answering any question
- Marianne Williamson didn’t answer a lot of the questions, she spent a lot of time trying to steer the discussion back on to her spaceship with mixed results
Will have a more comprehensive recap tomorrow…