He’s Been Prepping for Booker & Harris, but Might Another Rival Hit Him Harder Tonight?
By Al Giordano
The dynamic of last night’s debate with two frontrunners to the left of the pack will invert tonight as former Vice President Joe Biden is likely to receive incoming fire from rivals to the left of him.
Subscribers are invited to watch tonight’s debate, which begins at 8 p.m. ET on CNN and its website here at Organize & Win where your comments are also welcome. Last night’s watch party brought 175 smart and entertaining comments from logged-in subscribers. And after the debate is over we’ll start up the Organize & Win Democratic Presidential Straw Poll to see how it might have moved the meter.
8.7 million viewers watched last night’s debate – fewer than the 15.3 million that watched the first round’s Night One in late June. It included ham-handed efforts by former US Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, current US Rep. Tim Ryan and Montana Governor Steve Bullock to critique Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and other progressive showcase issues of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg had solid performances but no breakout moments. New Age self-help book writer Marianne Williamson got one of the loudest applauses of the night speaking about the need for reparations to a largely black Detroit area theater audience and Warren enjoyed what was probably the best moment for anyone on that stage when she schooled John Delaney saying she doesn’t know why anyone would go to all the trouble of running for president just to tell us what can’t be done. “Don’t tell us ‘No, We Can’t’” was the 2019 version of Obama’s “Yes, We Can.”
In a CNN focus group of nine undecided Iowa Democratic voters, seven of the participants said after the debate that they saw Warren as the clear winner, and another said she thought Klobuchar had won it.
In social media last night and today there was some discontent expressed toward Warren for playing nice with Sanders. Let me please offer my own perspective.
Warren Is Defusing the Sanders Time Bomb
Bernie Sanders, in 2016, long after he was mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination, narcissistically whipped many of his supporters into a tantrum at the Democratic National Convention in a manner that poisoned Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and opened the door to Trump’s Electoral College victory. Sanders and company were like a time bomb that ticked right up through election day and exploded in the form of suppressed voter turnout and higher than normal third party voting particularly in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where normally only about 1.5 percent of voters cast votes other than for the Democrat or Republican. In 2016 it was closer to five percent in each state. The difference surpassed the margin for Trump’s narrow victories in those places. The bitterness and discontent, the claims that the nomination had somehow been “rigged,” we know now from the Mueller Report, were fueled also by a Russian social media disinformation campaign that combined time hewn espionage techniques with online PR tactics.
The time bomb began ticking anew as soon as Sanders announced his candidacy. The same negativity and online harassment by an important cohort of Sanders supporters began anew and focuses on any given week on whatever Democratic rival they believe is the biggest obstacle to a Sanders nomination. But Warren’s candidacy has thrown a wrench into the engine. Sanders himself doesn’t know how to deal with her and looks on helplessly as she has surpassed him in national and many early state polls. Sanders has lost two-thirds of his 2016 voters in every state that’s been polled and the numbers show he can still lose more than half of those he has so far retained particularly to Warren.
Time bombs are never defused in a hurry. There won’t be a single moment that Sanders gets derailed. The process will continue as it has been happening in the form of the death of a thousand cuts. Warren is not only beating Sanders among voter preferences but as of the last fundraising quarter in money raised. This has corresponded with a slowing of Sanders’ own fundraising totals. She’s begun to literally take his money from him. How’s that for “democratic socialism?” And so it is going to continue that way right up through the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary in February. That’s when – and not a moment sooner – she might eliminate him from contention altogether.
But Warren won’t succeed in pushing Sanders down to his floor (as Rachel Bitecofer says, it’s about eight percent, or roughly half of his current supporters) and bringing them into her camp if she openly attacks Sanders at the debates or elsewhere. There may come a moment in January when things start to get testy – and most likely Sanders will throw the first punch, only to get knocked to the floor by the debate champ – but until then Warren will only continue to kill the old man with kindness and, more importantly, by being the far superior candidate.
To complain that Warren is not attacking Sanders is politically shortsighted. She is the main reason his campaign has failed to jumpstart beyond a hollow shell of its 2016 force and speed. Most policy progressives are already supporting her. He’s left with the cosplay leftists for whom identifying with a Quixotic call for American “socialism” is more important than enacting actual policies to end economic inequality and injustice…
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