Tonight we had the 2nd night of the Democratic Debate. If you’re looking for our recap of night number one, please see that here. Tonight was a very different debate from last night. Last night the stage was crowded with candidates polling in the single digits, if at all, and looking to make their voice heard. Elizabeth Warren was the only top dog on the state with double-digit polling numbers and a progressive message alongside name recognition.

Now that the 2-night debate with all 20 eligible candidates is over we can take stock of all the candidates and how the field has changed as a result of this debate. From night one we had breakout moments for Julian Castro and Elizabeth Warren while Beto struggled along and Cory Booker tried to make himself heard. Klobuchar did a good job of trying to show her midwest credentials and Tim Ryan did his best to not be outdone by her. Tonight Buttigieg played Klobuchar promoting his midwest credentials but withered under an attack from Swalwell over a recent police shooting in South Bend. While Buttigieg talked about the problems with South Bend and it’s police force, Swalwell jumped in to ask why the chief of police was fired. Buttigieg tried to respond but Swalwell got the applause line for repeating his question.

A big question tonight was if Joe Biden was going to retain his top spot and he most decidedly did not. Joe Biden took attacks from Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders and they were not easy attacks either. Kamala Harris stepped right in to question him on race and Sanders took a big bite with his Iraq war vote.

Kirsten Gillibrand was aggressive, even more so than Kamala in her time and repeatedly talked longer than time allowed and forced her way into early cross-talk with her fellow candidates. She refused to be silent and she persisted. What I find interesting is that while Kamala received heaps of praise for being aggressive on Twitter and in the post commentary, Gillibrand didn’t register in Twitterland.

The remainder of the field was desperate the breakthrough including Marianne Williamson who was talking throughout although you could not often hear her extra remarks. Bennet talked up his parent’s history with the Holocaust when talking about detention camps and Hickenlooper promoted his agenda as Governor of Colorado and mayor of Denver. Buttigieg did his best to look presidential but struggled as the youngest person on the stage. Younger people can do great things and they can make great changes but Buttigieg did not break through. He took some solid hits and never really recovered. He didn’t articulate his plan in the same way that other candidates were able to articulate their plans and their vision of America. He seemed as unprepared as Beto.

These debates have focused the field. There are clearly some people whose campaigns cannot survive much longer. The moderatetors were barely able to contain the candidates last night and tonight they were not in control of the debate for most of the night. Everyone has gotten some nice national TV time and gained some recognition. Tulsi Gabbard won the google trends search last tonight and I dare say Marianne Williamson will win it tonight.

Here are some big moments:

Kamala Harris Breaks Through

The winner of tonight was Kamala Harris. She got several great moments including an early moment when the whole stage was yelling at each other and begging for attention and she was able to calm the room down and deliver this great line, “America did not come here for a food fight, they came here to find out how we’re going to put food on the table.” The room was silent. With a sentence, she was able to quiet the field and return the debate to the moderators. It was a powerful moment. She followed that up by inserting herself into a discussion of racial inequality and Joe Biden’s comments about working with segregationists and pivot over to his comments on bussing from the 1970s. Instead of letting him just talk about Race, she took the voice of black America straight to him and asked him a question. His reply was adequate but the image of a white man talking about race and a viable black candidate asking him about his record on the subject was a powerful image. It was evocative of how America has changed. Race is no longer a conversation about minorities, it is inclusive of them and that is a big change that Biden just wasn’t ready to handle.

Harris also didn’t shy away from firming up her stance on healthcare. In contrast to last night, there were some candidates really trying to pull the party back to the right on healthcare. Harris raised her hand that private healthcare would not be apart of her plan. On foreign policy, she spoke with eloquence and aplomb. She was very prepared and it showed. She needed to break out and she did it, in spades.

Joe Biden…….Shaken not Stirred

Joe Biden went into this debate at the top of the heap in the polls. He arrived with national name recognition and the Obama name in his back pocket. He left the debate tonight looking flustered, angry at times, and just not ready for Trump. Bernie Sanders took him on over the war in Iraq and while his reply was adequate he was in an indefensible position and merely mentioned that while he voted for it he and Obama won because the war was unpopular. When Kamala Harris went in for the kill on race relations his reply was appropriate and political but he didn’t stand out and he couldn’t turn the moment into his moment and why you should vote for him. He left tonight looking old and out of touch. Eric Swalwell made a particular point of asking him to pass the torch to someone younger. Swalwell went in on him twice about that. If people were flocking to Biden for electability and someone who could take on Trump, tonight’s debate was not a great example of how that would work. When asked what his first issue he would handle in office would be…he answered defeating Donald Trump.

Marianne Williamson……?

Marianne Williamson didn’t speak for the first 27 minutes of the debate. The author turned political candidate spoke about things differently than many of the other candidates. In her closing remarks, she compared running against Trump as a war of love and hate and that she would meet him on the field of battle where love would win over hate. One Twitter commenter noted that she should be the secretary of crystals. On healthcare, she accused the American healthcare system of being too busy treating sick people and not keeping them well to start with (a good point I might add but not on topic). Her answers seemed quirky and out of left field. She just wasn’t ready for prime time. However, she has certainly generated plenty of great moments and in this day and age that might mean something.

That’s our recap of the first democratic debate. Keep your eyes on our Politics Desk as the 2020 campaign heats up.