Strong Democratic Debate Contrasts With Republicans

by Greg Dworkin –

graph of electability vs ideology, Ds
graph of electability vs ideology, Rs

John Sides:

Now here’s something fascinating about this election cycle: Republicans seem not to believe that there is any electoral penalty for being strongly conservative. But Democrats do believe a strong liberal will be penalized.That’s the conclusion from the newest Huffington Post surveys of Republican and Democratic activists. These surveys asked activists to rate their party’s candidates on a five-point scale ranging from “very liberal” to “very conservative” and also to check a box beside any candidate who “is capable of winning the general election for president” assuming that this candidate did win the nomination.


Hillary Clinton swept confidently into the campaign season’s first Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, denying she flip-flopped on key issues for political gain and rebuking her top rival Bernie Sanders for not being tough enough on guns.In a performance aimed at solidifying her lock on the Democratic nomination, Clinton sought to pivot from a tough summer in which the controversy over her private email server triggered a slump in popularity ratings. She proved to be a polished debater, showing little rust after enduring 25 debates during the 2008 campaign.

The former secretary of state dominated the opening exchanges, parrying questions on the depth of her political convictions and insisting she is a “progressive” despite the doubts of some on the left of the party.

“I have been very consistent,” Clinton said. “Over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles, but, like most human beings, including those of us who run for office, I do absorb new information. I do look at what’s happening in the world.”

YMMV, but that’s the consensus from the talking heads. Bernie certainly didn’t hurt himself, but it’s unclear he expanded his base. (He and Hillary get along just fine, by the way. They are good sparring partners.) O’Malley was good but no breakout and that’s for him very bad. Biden? He has no reason to run.PS Anderson Cooper did a good job.

More politics and policy below the fold.

Tim Fernholtz:

It wasn’t much of a contest.By the time Bernie Sanders declined a gift-wrapped opportunity to dig into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal, it was clear that Clinton would emerge from the first Democratic debate with a clear path to the nomination.
Sanders, the only candidate to challenge Clinton in public opinion polling, won applause from the debate audience—and even from Republican contender Donald Trump—when he seconded Clinton’s call to talk about substantive issues rather than the private e-mail server she maintained during her tenure as America’s top diplomat.


The odds of Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination rose after her debate performance, according to the Political Prediction Market.The Democratic front-runner’s odds were the only ones to rise after the debate, from 65% to 70%.

The Political Predict Market is a game run by the company Pivit and hosted by CNN that uses polls and other factors along with input from players who weigh in on the odds that a candidate or party will win or lose an election.

Bernie Sanders, who runs second to Clinton in public opinion polls, saw his odds of winning the nomination drop after the debate, from 16% to 15%.

The odds of Vice President Joe Biden winning the Democratic nomination fell 4 percentage points, from 15% to 11% after the debate.

Elizabeth Bruenig:

Live Democrats will take the stage in Las Vegas on Tuesday for the party’s first presidential primary debate of the season, but really it’s a showdown between the only two candidates who are polling in the double digits (or even above 1 percent, for that matter): Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Because they agree on all of the social matters that primarily demarcate Democrats from Republicans—a potpourri of issues including abortion, LGBT rights, and contraception—the competition largely comes down to their positions on inequality and state benefits. That’s why this debate stands to predict not just the Democratic Party’s immediate future, but the future—if there is one—of the American left.

Janell Ross:

Democrats have long depended on minority voters. That’s really been true since at least the late 1960s. Lose those voters, and Democrats lose, period.And while Hillary Clinton polls well with black voters in most states, the other leading candidate for the Democratic nomination has long struggled with this key demographic. Mightily.

We’re talking, of course, about Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont currently found behind podiums speaking to 20,000-person-plus, overwhelmingly white crowds.

This isn’t a hit piece, it’s a piece on a hurdle to overcome. In SC, e.g., Bernie is running at 4% with African-American voters to Hillary’s 52% (CBS/You/Gov .pdf, p. 5). Bernie’s got to change those numbers. Jamelle Bouie:

At this point, the House Select Committee on Benghazi is a dead letter. Democrats will dismiss it entirely, Hillary Clinton—in her upcoming testimony—will likely treat it with contempt, and the media will disregard its claims. Indeed, there’s a chance this could spread beyond the committee to Clinton’s email controversy.For all the noise over her server, there’s been no evidence of wrongdoing or legal misconduct in Clinton’s emails. And President Obama has challenged the idea that Clinton harmed national security by using a private system. Barring genuine revelations, the collapse of the Benghazi committee might create skepticism around future email releases. In other words, it could kill the story or at least make it less critical to Clinton coverage.

For months, the Benghazi Committee was the sharpest tool in the GOP’s fight against Hillary Clinton. Now, thanks to missteps (and a little hubris), it’s almost dull beyond use.

William Greider:

Fresh chatter among Washington insiders is not about whether the Republican Party will win in 2016 but whether it will survive. Donald Trump—the fear that he might actually become the GOP nominee—is the ultimate nightmare. Some gleeful Democrats are rooting (sotto voce) for the Donald, though many expect he will self-destruct.Nevertheless, Republicans face a larger problem. The GOP finds itself trapped in a marriage that has not only gone bad but is coming apart in full public view. After five decades of shrewd strategy, the Republican coalition Richard Nixon put together in 1968—welcoming the segregationist white South into the Party of Lincoln—is now devouring itself in ugly, spiteful recriminations.

The abrupt resignation of House Speaker John Boehner was his capitulation to this new reality. His downfall was loudly cheered by many of his own troops—the angry right-wingers in the House who have turned upon the party establishment. Chaos followed. The discontented accuse party leaders of weakness and betraying their promises to the loyal rank and file.

At the heart of this intramural conflict is the fact that society has changed dramatically in recent decades, but the GOP has refused to change with it. Americans are rapidly shifting toward more tolerant understandings of personal behavior and social values, but the Republican Party sticks with retrograde social taboos and hard-edged prejudices about race, gender, sexual freedom, immigration, and religion. Plus, it wants to do away with big government (or so it claims).

Julia Azari:

Despite the grim prospects for divided government and more lurching from CR to CR, both parties will eventually need to offer some new policy ideas. For the post-Obama Democrats, there are some big questions. Gay rights issues have generated a lot of energy in the party in the past decade. Where does this go post-Obergefell? Health-care reform has been on the Democratic agenda since the New Deal. Where does the party go after the Affordable Care Act? How do Democrats from various wings of the party contend with the legacy of Obama’s presidency? What will they say about mass incarceration, race, inequality, criminal justice reform, police violence?

Foreign policy ought to come up as well. This was one of the major policy differences between Clinton and Obama in 2008, and Obama’s stated approach during the first campaign hasn’t really been able to sustain his administration through the complex events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Tonight’s debate raises questions about democracy within parties

As Chris Hayes noted on Twitter, the exclusion of Larry Lessig, while Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee are included, might seem arbitrary to some. Various party affiliates have been calling for more debates, too. These raise a bunch of difficult but important questions about what it means for a party to be democratic. Open? Accountable? Who counts as a candidate or a party member? What’s to be gained by holding more debates?

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Posted By: Keith

Writer, political junkie, rabid rock music fan, amateur gardener, astronomer and ornithologist, cook extraordinaire, sipper of fine wine and, more than once, the funniest guy in the room.

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