The 2020 Democratic Presidential debates remind Americans of the long, long road ahead, as the top 10 contenders appeared together on stage in Houston last night.
While generally the most civil of the three debates, with solid performances and impassioned views, it left voters on the fence.
Debating a variety of issues from gun control, criminal justice reform and the environment, this was a make or break moment for many of the candidates.
Leading up to the debate, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have consistently kept their place as the clear front runners. Each has strong polling numbers, with Biden in the lead as Warren and Sanders fight for second place. Even so, none can seem to fully ignite their base. This debate is not likely to sway the undecided voter after watching.
Biden’s performance, while his best yet, was not flawless. When questioned about former President Barack Obama’s record of deporting more people than any other president in US history, Biden repeatedly side stepped. Is he the strongest face within the Democratic Party, or just a familiar one?
High hopes fell on Warren to eclipse Biden’s lead and many anticipated a standoff between the two candidates. This could have been Warren’s moment, but it was not. Despite her stamina and continued rise in the polls, she was often lost among the other candidates.
Sanders remained his classic self, defending his vision of Democratic Socialism against comparisons to the governments of Venezuela and Cuba. Though, strong criticism still remains regarding the feasibility of his plans. When pressed about the elimination of private insurance in favor of Medicare for all, he couldn’t deliver under the scrutiny.
While the front runners lacked some luster, the end of the line can be seen for everyone else.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), while a solid candidate with strong plans, lacked the stamina to leave a lasting mark. Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro’s brazened attempt to question Biden’s age may as well have ended his candidacy right there.
Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, has seen a comeback in light of the two mass shootings within his home state of Texas. Throughout the debate, O’Rourke received glowing praise for his efforts in addressing the crisis. His pledge to buyback AR-15s and AK-47s was one of the boldest talking points. Yet, polls indicate O’Rourke still grasping for numbers. Despite this being his best debate performance to date, it might not be enough to save his campaign.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang opened with cheers from the audience as he announced his plan to give 10 American families $1,000 a month. Aside from a few clever jokes, he failed to deliver on key questions regarding immigration and the war in Afghanistan. His rise has been meteoric, but it can only last for so long.
As November nears, many prospective voters are left wondering, where the Democratic Party can go. While some anticipated this debate to be a battle between the moderates and the far-left, it was a brawl that was left mostly waiting in the wings. This debate has not changed much, as divisions are still clear within the party. Come November, many Americans will be left with a choice that no one is thrilled to make.