On Wednesday night, MSNBC and the Washington Post hosted the fifth Democratic debate at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was a disappointment from the beginning as far as I was concerned; not having Madea moderate was a huge missed the opportunity – leading to, of course, a straight-to-DVD release of Madea Goes to Washington DC.
You see, she might start as the moderator, but after getting tired of all the politicians talking around the questions without giving straight answers – and possibly after hearing Joe Biden use the term “Blafrican American” (which actually happened) — Madea lays down the law. She goes down the line, clowning all ten candidates to uproarious applause. The next thing you know, the people of the United States want HER to represent the Democratic Party. She obliges, and hilarity ensues. Shout out to Tyler Perry – you can have that idea for $50k.
But I digress – the real panel of moderators included Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker, and Ashley Parker. The Twitter public was relatively happy with the job the four did, despite the expected MSNBC bias towards a few of the usual suspects.
Watching the debate from a betting perspective, I was most interested in how the participants would react to Pete Buttigieg’s sudden jump in the polls – particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire. I also came in looking to see if Tulsi would go back on the attack after missing the fourth debate and if Joe Biden would do or say anything crazy.
For the most part, it was a relatively tame debate. There were a few decent back-and-forths – most notably Tulsi vs. Mayor Pete and Tulsi vs. Kamala II – but nothing significant or damaging. The candidates spent most of the night attacking Donald Trump, which seemed to minimize DNC in-fighting.
Nevertheless, there were some interesting moments and strong quotes worth sharing with handicappers interested in betting on the democratic primaries or the general election that follows. In this post, we’ll look at nine of the ten candidate’s current odds to win the democratic nomination (Tom Steyer is off the board) and how the fifth debate may have impacted their chances.
The odds used in this article are from MyBookie.ag , and current as of 11/20 at 11 PM PST.
Elizabeth Warren +190
Total Speaking Time: 13 min, 26 sec.
Elizabeth Warren has performed phenomenally in all of the debates, and she continued to do a great job in Atlanta. I won’t say that she dominated the stage because nobody did, but she excels at breaking down real numbers and communicating a message that will resonate with the working class.
Senator Warren received some early challenges to her gradual Medicare for All plan from her ideological “right,” with Buttigieg, Booker, Klobuchar, and Biden all objecting to such a reform, but she got in strong rebuttals of her own. As the betting favorite and one of the three candidates leading the pack nationally, Elizabeth Warren did nothing to hurt her position.
- “In the third year, when people had a chance to feel it and taste it and live with it, we’re going to vote, and we’re going to want Medicare for all.”
- “I’m tired of freeloading billionaires.”
Joe Biden +350
Total Speaking Time: 12 min, 38 sec.
Joe Biden has a stamina issue. As has been the case with all of the Democratic debates thus far, the former Vice President started off relatively strange before getting sleepy and weird during the second half.
Joe got smashed by Cory Booker on marijuana legalization, then later said that he “came out of the black community,” before claiming to be endorsed by “the only black woman to be elected into the Senate.” He meant “first,” but it gave Kamala Harris an excellent opportunity to correct him.
Then there was my favorite moment of the night when the Vice President was speaking about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. “No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman in anger, other than self-defense, and that rarely occurs. We have to keep punching at it and punching at it.”
Punching at it and punching at it…he might be doing this on purpose; that’s just insane. You could hear the crowd laughing at the horrifically poor choice of words.
Bernie Sanders +530
Total Speaking Time: 11 min, 45 sec.
Senator Sanders continues to be the most fascinating candidate in this race. He presents his positions as bluntly as possible without any concern for backlash or scaring “moderate” democratic voters – including criticizing Israel’s aggression towards Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday (which drew applause from the audience).
Bernie continually brought up America’s problems with inequality and the disproportionate power and influence enjoyed by billionaires, going as far as to call it “rigged.” Like Senator Warren, Sanders stays focused on policy and doesn’t spend any time attacking his DNC opponents – unless he’s responding to direct criticism from them.
He also pushed his Medicare for All plan, which the Senator wants to push through his first year in office – separating himself from Elizabeth Warren and her more gradual approach.
I felt Sanders came across as very relatable. There was a great moment where Biden was quoting Kim Jong-un, who said he should be “beaten to death” like a “rabid dog,” after which Bernie quipped “but other than that, you like him,” to which they both – along with the audience — laughed.
- “It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel, I am pro-Israel, but we must treat the Palestinian people as well with the respect and dignity that they deserve.“
- “What the American people understand is Congress can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. In other words, we can deal with Trump’s corruption, but we also have to stand up for the working families of this country; we also have to stand up to the fact that our political system is corrupt – dominated by a handful of billionaires, and that our economy is rigged, with three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of America.”
Pete Buttigieg +530
Total Speaking Time: 12 min, 46 sec.
Between Pete Buttigieg’s sudden surge in the polls and the embarrassment his campaign faced concerning a list of “supporters” for his “Douglass Plan,” most pundits came into debate night expecting there to be a target on the Mayor’s back. Surprisingly, there weren’t too many aggressive attacks pointed his way.
One glaring exception came near the end of the debate from Tulsi Gabbard, who questioned Buttigieg’s inexperience with foreign policy for suggesting US military intervention in the cartel violence in Mexico.
Pete’s a phenomenal counter puncher though, responding “It’s par for the course in Washington to take quotes out of context, but that is outlandish, even by the standard of today’s politics.” The Mayor continued, “I was talking about US-Mexico cooperation. We’ve been doing security cooperation with Mexico for year…Do you seriously think anybody on this stage is proposing invading Mexico?”
The audience loved that last part and loudly laughed. I also thought Pete did an excellent job of addressing his unpopularity with black voters. He discussed his faith as a Christian and added:
“While I do not have the experience of ever being discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country, turning on the news and seeing my own rights come up for debate.”
I’m not sure he could have come up with a better response. Mayor Pete is a sharp guy with a quick wit, the sustained attacks from other democratic candidates may never come, in fear of his biting responses.
- “There’s over 100 years of Washington experience on this stage, and look where we are.”
- “I don’t talk a big game about helping the working class while helicoptering between golf courses with my name on them. I don’t even golf!”
Kamala Harris +5000
Total Speaking Time: 11 min, 31 sec.
I think Senator Harris looked more like the candidate we saw in the first debate – when she seemed poised to be one of the favorites. She focused a lot of her message on President Trump, emphasizing that she’s the one to go “toe-to-toe” with him on the debate stage next November. Kamala also made sure to address women’s issues, including the pay gap.
The most memorable moment was when she went at Tulsi Gabbard, who scored some major blows against Kamala in an earlier debate. Senator Harris referred to the congresswoman as a candidate “who during the Obama administration spent four years, full-time on Fox News criticizing Obama.”
- “When Donald Trump was elected, not even sworn in, [she] buddied up to Steve Bannon to get a meeting with Donald Trump in the Trump Tower, fails to call a war criminal by what he is, as a war criminal, and then spends full time during the course of this campaign again criticizing the Democratic Party.”
- “Donald Trump got punked.” – Speaking about the President’s negotiations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un
Tulsi Gabbard +6000
Total Speaking Time: 9 min, 14 sec.
Unlike most people on the “left,” I like Tulsi Gabbard and don’t think she’s a Russian asset. That said, this wasn’t a very good night for her. After having success taking down Kamala Harris two debates ago, she set her sights on Pete Buttigieg this time, only to get embarrassed by his response.
Senator Harris also got her revenge, attacking Tulsi’s appearances on Fox News (which, in fairness, MSNBC and CNN pretend she doesn’t exist) and criticisms of the DNC. However, the Hawaii congresswoman has a strong response, accusing Kamala of “continuing to traffic in lies and smears and innuendos because she cannot challenge the substance of the argument that I’m making.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Tulsi was one of the most heavily googled candidates coming out of yet another debate.
Cory Booker +16500
Total Speaking Time: 11 min, 31 sec.
Cory Booker had one of the strongest performances of the bunch, delivering several memorable moments. My favorite had to be his takedown of Joe Biden on marijuana.
“This week, I hear [Biden] literally say that I don’t think we should legalize marijuana,” he continued, “I thought you might have been high when you said it… Because marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people.”The problem is, Booker is so far down in the polls, I’m not sure he did enough to change his standing in the race. Of all ten debate participants, the Senator has by-far the longest odds of winning the Democratic nomination at MyBookie.ag.
- “I’ve had life-long experience with black voters. I’ve been one since I was 18.”
- “The war on drugs has been a war on black and brown people.”
Andrew Yang +2000
Total Speaking Time: 6 min, 53 sec
Andrew Yang always excels in these debates, despite always being given the least amount of time to speak . Wednesday night was no different. Yang came across charming and relatable, especially when he jumped to Tom Steyer’s defense when “money in politics” was being discussed, giving him credit for spending so much of his wealth fighting climate change.
In fact, whenever Yang got the opportunity to speak, he made an impression. Perhaps his biggest reaction of the night came when the former tech exec was asked about the first thing, as President, that he’d say to Vladimir Putin – to which he replied, “First I’d say, I’m sorry I beat your guy…”
However, despite another strong showing, Andrew Yang is still largely ignored by the moderators. Every time the guy speaks, the crowd erupts in applause, but his comments are few and far between. I assume this is because 66% of Democrats support Universal Basic Income, which the wealthy Dems desperately won’t want to pay.
- “There are only two countries in the world that don’t have paid family leave for new moms: The United States and Papua New Guinea. That is the entire list, and we need to get off this list as soon as possible.”
- “Donald Trump is not the cause of all our problems; he is a symptom. My first move was not to run for President of the United States, because I am not insane.” – Speaking on technology’s negative impact on the working class.
Amy Klobuchar +6000
Total Speaking Time: 10 min, 43 sec
Amy Klobuchar was another standout on Wednesday night. In fact, she may have had the best overall performance out of everyone.
The Senator made a brilliant play when moderators asked Klobuchar about comments she’d made about Pete Buttigieg’s lack of experience and women being held to a higher standard, shooting back that if that wasn’t the case, “we could play a game called ‘name your favorite woman president,’ which we can’t do.”
Klobuchar spent much of the night presenting herself as a moderate and the practical (electable) option. She dismissed popular progressive proposals like Medicare for All and free college tuition, using phrases like “pay for rich kids to go to college” and “take health insurance away.”
I’m not sure that’s a message that can win the general election with working-class Democrats feeling so disenfranchised, but it may help her compete for Pete Buttigieg’s centrist supporters.
- “If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump — Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.”
Final Thoughts from the DNC Debate
All in all, I’d say the fifth Democratic debate was a good showing for just about everyone except Tulsi Gabbard and Joe Biden. Tulsi’s had a target on her back ever since she made her stand in 2016, stepping down from her position with the DNC over their treatment of Bernie Sanders – which has only gotten bigger since attacking Hillary Clinton over her “Russian asset” claims.
Joe Biden – I just don’t know how they can continue to say that he’s in the lead. The only way it makes sense is if the elderly are open to participating in polls than other demographics since that is the group with which he scores best.
I’d expect their odds to continue to lengthen, while Mayor Pete, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren all either stay put or see their betting lines get shorter. Generally, the debates haven’t had a significant effect on the poll numbers, though, so don’t expect too much movement.
If I had to guess, based on everything we’ve seen since campaigning began, Elizabeth Warren (+190) will ultimately be the pick for the Democratic National Committee’s nomination, with either Pete Buttigieg or Cory Booker as her Vice President.