DNC Debates, Round 2

Go Bama

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Here's a dirty little secret: debates don't mean diddly squat. The absolute worst pounding ever administered in any Presidential debate was Lloyd Bentsen jack hammering Dan Quayle in 1988. (Okay, it was a VP debate, but you know what I mean).

Dukakis lost the election about as badly as Quayle lost the debate. Despite the institutional importance given to them - they don't mean "nothing," but they mean "next to nothing." That's not so true at the lower level (Todd Akin serving as the best example). But they don't matter.


What CAN do you in, however, is what Lee Atwater used to call "a defining moment."

Ed Muskie "crying" on the back of a truck when he raged against William Loeb's attack upon him.
George H W Bush just sitting there while Reagan said he was paying for the microphone.
Teddy Kennedy unable to answer "why do you want to be President."
Bob Dole snorting, "Stop lying about my record" after losing the 1988 NH primary (I believe he was on NBC).

And - obviously - Howard Dean's infamous speech (I thought Dean was a bumpkin joke whom I watched Tim Russert expose as a complete fraud the first time I saw him, and I never could have voted for him - but I also thought he got a bum rap on that one speech, too).

Of course - and here's where they intersect - when the defining moment occurs IN the debate.....that's what everyone fears. Ford saying Poland is not under Soviet domination, Reagan decking Mondale with the line about "youth and inexperience," Dukakis botching the capital punishment question, Bush 41 looking at his watch, and Romney talking about his "binders" of women.

You can lose every debate - but if you win the post-debate spin then it doesn't matter.
Gore thumped Bush two out of three, but he lost the spin in one of his two wins.
Clinton thumped Trump all three times - but the most memorable moment of any of those three was Trump's, "And you'd be in jail" comment.


Btw - I don't watch these things (last debate I saw was the Cheney-Edwards one in 2004), but I know enough about the views of everyone here that I can get a good take on what happened just by reading here (which is why I'm here).


So thanks everyone for your input.
You’re probably right although in my mind the Kennedy/Nixon debates did help Kennedy win the election. You may know better.

I’ve already made my mind up to vote for whoever stands the best chance of beating Trump so these Democratic debates will help me decide who to support. For example, I suspect if Sanders or Warren we’re to be nominated taxes would be dramatically raised, thus raising payroll taxes and possibly driving me out of business.

There was nothing to hold over Trump’s head in the 2016 election. He was not a Washington politician. Now he is. Hopefully a good debater like Harris or Buttigieg can hold Donald Trump’s feet to the fire. Harris being a former prosecutor should be well equipped for the task. Whether or not it makes a difference in the election, I want to see that happen. Of course, I don’t know if I can afford Harris either, but I’m 100% certain Trump has to go.
 

RollTide_HTTR

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Debates mean nothing in the General because most people vote party line. Debates do mean a little bit more for primaries but they still aren't as important as some want them to be.
 

chanson78

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He is apparently getting a sizable chunk of black voters. Hopefully, as his past is discussed more and more (like last night) they will leave him for Kamala or Warren.
Watching the guy from the congressional black caucus try and support him last night in the post debate interviews was painful to watch.
 

RollTide_HTTR

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Watching the guy from the congressional black caucus try and support him last night in the post debate interviews was painful to watch.
I didn't see it but from what I heard on NPR his defense pretty much came down to "he has a black friend named Obama"
 

TIDE-HSV

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It took a perfect storm to elect Trump in 2016.
I think people tend to forget that. He lost the popular vote by 3 million and scraped by with 77K votes in just the right places. Normally, incumbency vastly helps a president. In this case, with his abysmal ratings, I think it will work in reverse - if the Democrats come up with a decent candidate...
 

selmaborntidefan

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You’re probably right although in my mind the Kennedy/Nixon debates did help Kennedy win the election. You may know better.
I think it's fair to concede that as a contributing factor, but where I would divert is that that particular year of debates was completely different from what we have now. They weren't "really" aware precisely how television could change the thing because they were learning.

But by 1992, every single debate was a scripted campaign speech. It was already getting that way some in 1988, but it got really bad that year - and then it went full on insane in the 96 GOP debates.

So I wouldn't dispute your assessment because JFK didn't. He was clear that he would have lost without the debates. However, JFK did not in any way clean Nixon's clock, either. He "won" because he looked calmer and more self-assured.

I watched a few 1988 Democratic primary debates - and BY FAR the best debater and candidate was Jesse Jackson. He had the wittiest lines, he came across as the least programmed candidate, and he looked Presidential (yes, he did).


He also didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.


The "defining moment" (if you will) in the 2016 GOP race was when Chris Christie cut Marco Rubio to shreds on his claim of a "reading from a script." The funny thing is that to a large degree they all do that in these debates, but what Rubio SHOULD have done was something like this:

"Governor, I'm being consistent with what I say, which means I use the same words to communicate. I'm being consistent; a script is what Mr Trump reads from as a reality TV star. A script is what he gave you to make that point. And a script is what your appointees were following when they closed the George Washington Bridge. But as I'm open to taking advice, I will endeavor to expand my vocabulary a bit while remaining consistent."

His failure wasn't the reading from the script, it was how he handled it.

I’ve already made my mind up to vote for whoever stands the best chance of beating Trump so these Democratic debates will help me decide who to support. For example, I suspect if Sanders or Warren we’re to be nominated taxes would be dramatically raised, thus raising payroll taxes and possibly driving me out of business.

There was nothing to hold over Trump’s head in the 2016 election. He was not a Washington politician. Now he is.
The flip side to that is that no matter how much or little credit he deserves for it, we are at peace and the economy is humming along. And those two issues are what most folks vote, which is why though I concur with jthomas's observation of the perfect storm, the tendency to re-fight the last war is not going to help the Democrats (I think that's a lot of the problem with both Bernie and Biden).

Hopefully a good debater like Harris or Buttigieg can hold Donald Trump’s feet to the fire. Harris being a former prosecutor should be well equipped for the task. Whether or not it makes a difference in the election, I want to see that happen. Of course, I don’t know if I can afford Harris either, but I’m 100% certain Trump has to go.
Look, I'll even be one to grant there would be a certain poetic/karmic justice in Trump losing to a minority female candidate. But keeping your support is as simple as following G W Bush's way of debating: get back to the 3 points you want to make. (Bill Clinton was a master at this, but he had the intellect to sound like he was saying something more expansive than he actually was).

Just remember - 2011 and 2012 Alabama was about as close to an unbeatable machine as you're gonna see - and they lost two games. Trump isn't God, so he's not unbeatable.
 

crimsonaudio

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I think people tend to forget that. He lost the popular vote by 3 million and scraped by with 77K votes in just the right places. Normally, incumbency vastly helps a president. In this case, with his abysmal ratings, I think it will work in reverse - if the Democrats come up with a decent candidate...
That rallies and excites ALL the D voters. The problem is lately it seems that the Dems are "my guy/gal or nobody" voters - precisely how Trump won in '16. If that happens again, he can win again.

The R voters are far more 'party over candidate' than the D's have shown. And we're all dealing with that fallout.
 

92tide

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That rallies and excites ALL the D voters. The problem is lately it seems that the noisiest Dems are "my guy/gal or nobody" voters - precisely how Trump won in '16. If that happens again, he can win again.

The R voters are far more 'party over candidate' than the D's have shown. And we're all dealing with that fallout.
fify. i think that is what is being portrayed, but i think it is being blown way out of proportion. also remember, we have a foreign adversary that has made it obvious that they are going to once again interfere with our elections and i bet a lot of that interference will again come in the form of general attempts to blow these types of things out of proportion. it (among several other things) worked against hillary.

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RollTide_HTTR

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fify. i think that is what is being portrayed, but i think it is being blown way out of proportion. also remember, we have a foreign adversary that has made it obvious that they are going to once again interfere with our elections and i bet a lot of that interference will again come in the form of general attempts to portray these types of things.
There was an NPR story this morning where they interviewed some Bernie supporters after the debate and many of them were still pro Bernie but VERY open to other candidates. Obviously that's anecdotal but still...

EDIT: forgot to say they were interviewing people who attended the debate IIRC.
 
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UAH

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I think people tend to forget that. He lost the popular vote by 3 million and scraped by with 77K votes in just the right places. Normally, incumbency vastly helps a president. In this case, with his abysmal ratings, I think it will work in reverse - if the Democrats come up with a decent candidate...
When I read comments on You Tube and Facebook post regarding Trump and McConnell for example, I most often see bitter dissatisfaction represented in the majority of comments. It is similar here on Tidefans particularly considering the heavy Alabama representation. My point is that I don't believe this dissatisfaction, that led to the Democratic House wins last year, is truly reflected in the polls. Democrats have a great opportunity to win by attracting moderate voters if they offer practical long term solutions versus pie in the sky non quantified promises as Bernie is prone to do.