There's no denying it, this debate was the messiest of them yet and things will only continue to get dirtier the more desperate candidates become. However, there were a few key things to take away following the debate.
Bernie Sanders is the Candidate to Beat
While Bloomberg might have been the target of the most intense criticisms, Bernie was the most frequently targeted. Although Bernie was targeted often, he was not faced with any new attacks. For the most part the other candidates stuck with criticisms of Bernie's supporters, the cost of his policies, his self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist ideologies. Bernie responded with data from studies, specific details on how he will raise tax revenue to pay for his policies, and flipping the criticism around on those attacking him. The real takeaway from this is that Bernie has been implicitly recognized as the candidate to beat by the remainder of the nominees.
Pete's Campaign is Scared of Bernie
Throughout the debate, Pete came off as desperate to score points against Bernie, choosing to focus on criticizing Bernie rather than Bloomberg. This move reeks of desperation on Pete's end, attempting to capitalize on his momentum coming out of New Hampshire.
Pete's criticism really only served as further evidence of his inability to elaborate on the actual substance of policy matters. Their exchange on Medicare for All was particularly revealing. Pete attacked Bernie by saying Bernie has no real idea of the cost of his plan nor a way to fund it. Bernie replied by referencing the Yale study released this last week, which concluded that Medicare for All would lower the annual cost of healthcare in the US by $450 billion. Pete proceeded to ignore the data Bernie had cited and lie about the costs of healthcare rising under Bernie, claiming that there were $29 trillion in unaccounted for costs.
Later in the debate, Pete took a shot at Bernie saying his plan will raise taxes for people earning more than $29,000 annually. Bernie interjected and clarified that by eliminating the insurance administration costs and removing the for-profit model, the overall expense of healthcare will be significantly reduced.
All the Candidates Despise Bloomberg
With the exception of Mayor Pete, every candidate on stage took multiple shots at Mayor Bloomberg. In particular, Warren seemed very eager to capitalize on the easy target provided by the accusations of sexual assault against Bloomber, his inability to release his tax returns, the countless women he's paid off and forced to sign NDAs. The other candidates, sans Pete, all got some shots in as well.
Klobuchar is Scary
Klobuchar is a little terrifying... Not in terms of her odds to win the nomination, which seems pretty unlikely at this point; rather, given her track record of abusing her staff, I was slightly concerned she might throw a binder at him. Luckily, there were none readily available.
On a separate note, Klobuchar has the same issue as Pete in terms of being unable to really elaborate on the substance of her policy platform. She readily criticizes the healthcare plan, tax plan, and policies of the other candidates, but sticks to advocating for, "the expansion of Obamacare," rather than going into any level of detail about what that means.
Warren Will Not Drop Out to Endorse Bernie
While it's been looking like this was the case for a while, the events of tonight's debate and the news of a PAC funding her ad campaign in Nevada really solidified that Warren will not move to unify the progressive voter base. Warren started the debate by taking a shot at Bernie's online supporters. Later in the debate she argued that Bernie is too progressive and will not be able to unite the voter's behind his platform in the general election. Granted, she obviously needs to draw a contrast between herself and Bernie in order to gain any semblance of support in the upcoming primaries, but it seems extremely unlikely that Warren will drop out to help Bernie.
The DNC Will Fuck Bernie Over
This is hardly surprising after watching the 2016 primary and the clusterfuck that was Iowa, but the end of the debate provided some insight into what is likely to happen if Bernie doesn't win the majority of delegates. Immediately prior to closing statements, the candidates were all asked what they would want to happen if nobody were to win the majority of delegates by the Democratic National Convention. Every single candidate, with the exception of Bernie, made the case for a Brokered Convention, which would mean candidates can trade or cede their delegates to one another. Bernie argued that the will of the people should be followed and that the candidate winning the popular vote should be the nominee.
Bernie MUST win the absolute majority of delegates prior to the Democratic National Convention. If he fails to, there is little doubt the neoliberal candidates will collaborate, ceding their delegates to prevent Sanders from winning the nomination. The only hope for Bernie in the event of a brokered convention is that Warren would a. have enough delegates to potentially push Bernie to the absolute majority and b. would be willing to cede those delegates to him in order to ensure a progressive victory. Neither of those are factors seems likely given her record in the primary to this point.
We've got an uphill battle in front of us, but it is absolutely necessary to fight like hell in order to secure this victory for Bernie. Volunteer for Bernie by texting, phone-banking, canvassing, or generally getting the word out about his campaign and platform. We must do absolutely everything in our power to help Bernie reach the absolute majority in delegates prior to the Democratic National Convention if we want any semblance of progressive change from the status quo.