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Member since: Fri Jun 7, 2019, 02:43 PM
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The debate format is an embarrassment

The debate format is an embarrassment. Here’s how to make it better.
By Margaret Sullivan

About 40 minutes after the start of Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, I got an email from a Washington Post reader with this subject line: “I don’t care for this.” He was complaining, of course, about the Detroit debate on CNN, which he described as a reality TV show with journalists playing celebrity hosts.

With frustratingly tiny and rigidly enforced response time, outsize attention to fringe candidates and divisive questions — some of which could have been framed by the Republican National Committee — the first Detroit debate was a lost opportunity to inform the voting public.

“Honestly, you could catalog all journalism’s faults just from watching debate moderators,” tweeted Joshua Benton, who runs Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab.

To wit: “An obsession with conflict over explanation, forcing complex policies into soundbites, above-it-all savviness that only makes sense if you spend all your time on Politics Twitter or in DC.”

The worst of Night 1 may have been the format itself, which started with a painfully high-octane video that managed to simultaneously evoke “The NFL Today,” World Wrestling Entertainment, and “Jeopardy!” Then there was the spaceship-like set that (according to CNN’s Oliver Darcy) took 100 people eight days to build and involved nine 53-foot semi-trucks.

In one way, CNN’s efforts were an improvement from NBC’s first round of debates a couple of weeks ago — at least there was no absurd demand for a show of hands on complex policy proposals.

But there was a major flaw: CNN’s moderators, like the strictest of schoolmasters, allowed almost no actual debating as they enforced the time limitations. That ridiculous rule needs immediate reform.


Minutes Spoken by the Candidates in debate 2.1

Who talked the most during the first night of the second Democratic debate

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders grabbed more airtime than the other candidates on Tuesday night, speaking for nearly 18 minutes apiece. From center stage, the pair fielded questions and defended their stances on liberal policies such as Medicare-for-all and the wealth tax. CNN moderators often pitted them against centrists like former Maryland congressman John Delaney and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, giving those outside candidates more talking time than would have been expected, given their position in the polls.
How each candidate stood out Tuesday night

Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts senator with the “I have a plan for that” catchphrase is faring well in early state and national polls, detailing ambitious plans to eradicate student debt, institute Medicare-for-all and reduce the influence of money in politics.

She spent much of Tuesday night fending off critiques from moderate candidates and showing unity with Bernie Sanders. And she chastised John Delaney for “using Republican talking points” and suggesting she offered “impossible promises” and “fairy-tale economics.”

“You know, I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States, just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” Warren said.


Warren at 18% on the DU primary Preference ticker today.


Debate coach: Elizabeth Warren gets an A+

By Todd Graham

[CNN Editor's Note: Todd Graham is the director of debate at Southern Illinois University. His debate teams have won five national championships and he has been recognized three times as the national debate coach of the year. Follow him on Twitter. The views expressed in this commentary belong solely to the author.]

As a debate coach, the most common question I get asked is this: In the Democratic field, who can stand up to President Trump in a debate?

Last night's performance gave us at least one clear answer to that question. The candidates' debate grades say it all.

A+ Elizabeth Warren

Warren hit all the right notes with her tone, demeanor, language choices and especially her policy-specific answers. She struck the right balance between progressive and pragmatic while pounding away at corporations, the rigged system, greed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies and more.

I first realized Warren was owning the debate stage at the onset of the event -- actually, during a mistake she made. She decided to begin an anecdote about Ady Barkan, a man with ALS who was being failed by a broken health care system. Unfortunately, Warren ran out of time to tell the whole story. But, on her next speaking turn, she continued the anecdote to some mild chuckles from the audience. What she did next was perfect. She looked at the audience and said, "This isn't funny. This is somebody who has health insurance and is dying."

She lectured the audience and didn't give a damn what they thought. And she continued dominating throughout the evening.
To Delaney: "I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for."

To the voters: "We can't choose a candidate we don't believe in just because we're too scared to do anything else... Democrats win when we figure out what is right and we get out there and fight for it. I am not afraid. And for Democrats to win, you can't be afraid, either."

To everyone: "We need to call out white supremacy for what it is: Domestic terrorism."
Importantly, Warren's policy answers also were the best on stage, with her explanations of why we must change the immigration laws (because we shouldn't ignore laws) and how a no first-use policy on nuclear weapons will make a safer world. My own debate teams have won countless rounds on this very argument.


Sanders 3rd, Biden 4th in New, High-Quality California Poll

That’s why it’s significant that the best-regarded Golden State poll, taken by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), is showing a turnabout in the nomination contest. Here’s PPIC’s terse summary of its findings:

Based on an open-ended question, the frontrunners are Kamala Harris (19%), Elizabeth Warren (15%), Bernie Sanders (12%), and Joe Biden (11%). Pete Buttigieg (5%) is the only other candidate supported by at least 5 percent, while 25 percent say they don’t know.

Most election preference polls utilize lists of candidates. An open-ended poll, requiring respondents to volunteer their favored candidate, is arguably more accurate, but if anything it puts a thumb on the scale for the better-known rivals. So the fact that the best-known candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are running, respectively, fourth and third in this survey is a big and surprising development.

Harris’s lead in PPIC’s open-ended poll is, of course, good news for the Californian. She leads the field among self-identified liberals and moderates alike and in every major region. What this really means is that whoever comes steaming out of the early states with momentum will be in a position to win a lot of delegates in California. If PPIC’s findings are any indication, the state will not be any sort of firewall for Joe Biden if he stumbles in Iowa or New Hampshire or Nevada or South Carolina. It could, in fact, represent the death knell for his campaign. But at this point Biden leads in all the four early states. He’d better do well before the contest splits to the Left Coast. There’s no comfort there for him.


This poll was just released by the 538 A rated Public Policy institute of California:

July 14–23, 2019
1,706 California Adult Residents:
English, Spanish

Disclaimer: This is an early poll. No single poll's results , especially one this early, should be over emphasized.

15% Is Not A Magic Number For Primary Delegates

If you hear the phrase “delegate math” and remember 2016, you might have some nightmares. That’s because Republicans, who briefly kinda sorta looked like they might have a contested convention, have incredibly complicated delegate-allocation rules. Some states were winner-take-all in the GOP primaries. Some were proportional. Some states didn’t even really vote at all (!) or had voters chose delegates directly. It was a mess.

Democratic delegate rules are far more uniform from state to state — and they’re much simpler. But there are a couple of nuances that I can imagine people are going to get wrong.

One of them concerns the 15 percent threshold, which is a number that you’re going to be hearing a lot about. Democrats allocate their delegates proportionately among candidates who get 15 percent or more of the vote in a given state or district. So, for instance, if Bernie Sanders gets 42 percent of the vote in a certain state, Kamala Harris gets 18 percent, Joe Biden gets 14 percent, Pete Buttigieg gets 11 percent, Cory Booker gets 10 percent and Marianne Williamson gets 5 percent, then only Sanders and Harris would get state-level delegates, with Sanders getting 70 percent of the delegates1 and Harris getting the other 30 percent.

The part that’s easy to miss is in that term state-level delegates. In the Democratic primaries, only about 35 percent of delegates are actually allocated at the state level. The remaining 65 percent are allocated by district — usually by congressional district, although some states use different methods such as by county (Montana and Delaware) or state legislative districts (Texas and New Jersey).
This can make a big difference. In the example above, for instance, if Biden were to get 14 percent of the vote statewide, he probably would get some delegates because he’d likely be at or above 15 percent in at least some districts.

How many delegates is harder to say; it depends on how much variation there is from district to district. But for some rough guidance, I looked back at candidates who finished with between 10 and 20 percent of the vote in the Republican primaries in 20162 in states that allocated some of their delegates by congressional district.3 In the average district, there was about a 3-point gap between a candidate’s statewide vote share and that candidate’s districtwide vote share.

By performing a little math,4 we can extrapolate how many district delegates we’d expect a candidate to get given a certain statewide vote share. For instance, a candidate who gets 14 percent of the vote statewide, as Biden did in this example, would expect to achieve at least 15 percent in somewhere around 40 percent of districts, thereby receiving delegates there. Even a candidate who got 10 percent of the vote or less statewide might have a couple of strong districts where he or she received delegates, especially in a large, diverse state such as California.


2020 Democratic Primary Debate Schedule

Here is the most up-to-date and complete schedule of the Democratic Primary debates taking place in 2019 and 2020. These debates are between all the major Democratic candidates running for President in 2020. The Democratic debate list below will include all details such as start times, moderators, candidates, live stream links, and links to the full debate videos. This page will be updated frequently as soon as new information becomes available.


The schedule for the THIRD Debate is given as: September 12 & 13, 2019

Is that second date firm? Or a contingency if more than 10 candidates qualify? I hope they do not split the debate between two nights if there are 10 candidates or less.

Following a break for August, there will be a debate every month for September thru January.
That's a lot of debates!

"Debates are extremely hard"


Elizabeth Warren Blasts 'Racist' Donald Trump

Elizabeth Warren Blasts 'Racist' Donald Trump and His 'Outrageous, Racist Remarks' After Attack On Elijah Cummings

Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren blasted President Donald Trump on Saturday, calling him a "racist" after his attacks on her congressional colleague Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland's 7th district.

"Donald Trump, once again, is a racist who makes ever-more outrageous, racist remarks," Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, said in comments to reporters.

"It is insulting, both to the congressman and to the people he represents." Referring to Cummings as on of her "dearest friends" she said he "is a good man through and through, and he fights for what is just in this country." The senator called Trump's tweets "racist," saying the president's attack was "beyond insulting" and "disgusting."

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) talks with Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Capitol Hill on February 12, 2013 in Washington, D.C.


Feuding among Biden, Booker and Harris is unpredictable force in diversifying Democratic Party

Feuding among Biden, Booker and Harris is unpredictable force in diversifying Democratic Party
By Matt Viser and Chelsea Janes July 25th

As the fight to become the nominee of an increasingly diverse Democratic Party roars toward a second debate, Joe Biden has repeatedly found himself in bitter conflicts with the two most prominent black presidential candidates, Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala D. Harris (Calif.).

Their progressively ­high-profile battling carries risks for all parties involved, with Biden growing far more defiant in his responses, and Booker and Harris making more explicit overtures to black voters as a way to loosen the former vice president’s grip on a bloc that has kept him atop the polls.

The dispute marks a critical chapter in the fight for the soul of a party that was most recently guided by the nation’s first black president — and whose vice president is trying to ride some of that lasting goodwill — but the debate now is becoming more raw, less predictable, and with potentially perilous fault lines for both sides.

It will play out more prominently next week on the debate stage, with Biden standing between Harris and Booker for two hours with the potential of condensing weeks of criticism.

The simmering debate — playing out amid the most diverse presidential field in history — contrasts with Barack Obama’s campaigns, which largely downplayed the history-busting nature of his candidacy. A University of Pennsylvania study found that Obama spoke less about race than any other Democrat in the first two years of his presidency since John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.

This year, the presidential contest has brimmed with issues touching on race, including economic plans tailored to black Americans, proposals meant to improve black maternal health and potential reparations for descendants of slaves.

“Racism was like the third rail of politics. It was something Democrats did not touch,” said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist and former Obama pollster. “A decade ago, you didn’t hear any Democrat talking about systemic racism. You didn’t hear any Democrat using terms like ‘institutional racism.’ You do today. Almost every Democrat running for office is talking about the issue of systemic racism.”

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