Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Hickenlooper and Bennet Get One More Debate

As I wrote on Friday, John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet got moments in the second night of the first Democratic debates, but both were overshadowed by the big four – Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg – especially the takedown of Biden by Harris.

Some commentary confirms that Colorado’s two candidates performed satisfactory, but not enough to move the polls or the narrative. They get one more debate chance at the end of July, but are unlikely to enter the room in much better position than their less than one percent position as of Thursday night. The good news for both Bennet and Hickenlooper is that the first round of debates showed the field can be shook up by a big performance. It reinforced that it’s early and frontrunners are vulnerable and second and third tiers can stand out.

Democratic primary debate, June 27, 2019 | Mike Segar/Reuters

Most of the early responses and the pundit class rate the two night winners:


  • Warren
  • Harris
  • Castro
  • Booker
  • Klobuchar
  • Gabbard
  • de Blasio

Twitter (Ranked in over their pre-debate favorability)

With the exception of Joe Biden, over-favorability went up, including for Hickenlooper and Bennet, but they are only in the 20 percent range (leaders were 40% and above). FiveThirtyEight also rated increase in Twitter followers, and the big winners were Harris and Juli├ín Castro (more than 50,000), Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren more than 30,000. The two fringe candidates – Marianne Williamson (31,000) and Andrew Yang (39,000) – have their online fans.

Hickenlooper and Bennet were at the dead bottom of the list of twenty, with about 1,000 new followers each.

Word Count

Hickenlooper did his pragmatic, contrast with Sanders, but never got into much of an exchange with others or interrupted. He had one of the lowest speaking times (5 minutes) and word counts (951 words). Although length is not indicative of how one did. Bill de Blasio spoke less than Hickenlooper (881), but was judged on having made an impression, and Joe Biden spoke the most (2,475), but was mostly on the defense.

Bennet managed to interject often and had a word count (1,402 words, 8 minutes) nearly equal to Castro (1,588), who was considered a breakout star the first night. Bennet was not.

Time Out

Kirsten Gillibrand may replace de Blasio as the least liked New Yorker for Democrats. She should quit before her senate career is damaged.

Because of the DNC’s internet rules, it may be hard to get rid of Yang and Williamson. They appeared even more fringe after their performances. And Tim Ryan, Eric Swalwell, John Delaney and Jay Inslee looked very marginal. Finally, it’s hard to imagine a recovery for Beto O’Rourke.

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