What's Next After Fallout from Debate Round #3? - "Sunday Political Brunch" - September 22, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- It’s turning out to be like a 15-round professional boxing match. We’ve had three rounds of debates on the Democratic Party so far. Is the tide turning, and what is next? Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“No Bounce for You!” – The post-debate poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal is beginning to show some separation in the pack. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 31 percent – a consistent number for him – but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts is next at 25 percent. Her support is growing, while Senator Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont at 14 percent, is trending downward, while Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend, Indiana is trending up at 7 percent. The rest of the pack is fading into the weeds.

“So, What’s Going On?” – First this was Biden’s best debate. He was steadier, and stronger after a poor first debate, and a moderately stronger second debate. He still raises questions about his endurance for a marathon campaign. Warren has now shown in three rounds, that she is the steadiest, strongest and most consistent debater on the stage. Even if you disagree with her policies, she is firm and confident and clear in expressing her positions. In short, you know where her feet are planted. That builds confidence.

“Bye, Bye Bernie?” – Oh heavens no! Don’t write his political obit by any stretch. He’s still in the game. Sanders is still in this. Remember, this was a national poll from NBC, but we don’t have national primary. When you drill down to key first states like New Hampshire, it’s all bunched up. In the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll in the “first in the nation" primary state of New Hampshire Biden is at 23.7 percent, Sanders at 22.3 percent and Warren at 21.7 percent. It’s a toss-up at this point, but the reward for whomever wins is momentum for the long-haul in the nomination process.

“Military Matters”—Folks, sometimes a candidate’s issue just rockets to center stage. Given the attack on the Saudi Arabian oil fields, and the finger-pointing at Iran, the possibility of U.S. military action is heightened. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii was live in CBS’s streaming news service for her reaction and strategy. Why? Because she’s served in the military. So has Mayor Buttigieg. Suddenly, their unique experience may prove to be an asset. Both are polling better in recent days, although they remain far from the frontrunners.

“Who’s on First? And What’s Next?” The fourth Democratic presidential primary debate will take place on Tuesday October 15, with a possible second night of debate. All ten people who made the third debate will be there, and wealthy businessman Tom Steyer (who has been in no debates) is the eleventh candidate to qualify. Keep an eye on Steyer. He was a late entry but has a bottomless wallet and can self-fund as a long as he wishes. He’s trending up in the polls, so he may be in the race for a while.

“Perspective is Important!” – Look, it’s still early in the campaign. A lot can change and change quickly. In this same week in September 2007, the Associated Press poll had its 40 percent for Hillary Clinton, to 26 percent for Barrack Obama. Similar polls on the Republican side had former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) with a commanding lead in the 40-plus percentage range. We all know how that turned out as neither frontrunner was the nominee. So, keep watching, as this is all in flux.

“Farewell Cokie Roberts” – I was sad to see the passing of my colleague Cokie Roberts this week, a legend in political reporting circles. I first met Cokie in November 1992, when I won a Congressional Fellowship with the American Political Science Association. She was an advisor of our program, where reporters spend a year working in Congress to see what goes on behind the scenes. It was a life-changing and career-changing program for me. When I went back to reporting full-time, I’d see her on stories and on the campaign trail. I even interviewed her and her husband Steve Roberts on TV when they visited San Francisco. She was smart, and classy, and well-connected, with encyclopedic knowledge of American politics. I will miss her and her great work.

Did the debates change your mind about who you are supporting? Just click the comment button and let your voice be heard!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Writer for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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