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Winners and Losers from the November Democratic Debate

The November 20th Democratic debate was hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post. The debate featured 10 candidates: Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Tom Steyer. The debate also featured the first all-female moderator panel. Here are the winners and the losers from the November Democratic debate.

Watch the full debate here.



Amy Klobuchar (Winner of the Night) – Although her poll numbers have raised since the previous debates, Klobuchar has never really risen to the top of the pack. Tonight, she bounced back, pulling in an impressive amount of speaking time. She was able to reach out to all three parties (conservatives, moderates, and progressives) by laying down reasonable plans and detailing how she would be able to fund every little thing. Klobuchar’s fully planned 3 month paid leave proposal also made Kamala Harris’s unplanned 6 month paid leave proposal seem weak in comparison. Not only was she able to gain ground in feminism, but Klobuchar was also able to attack Buttigieg’s inexperience, leaving the mayor speechless at some points. Buttigieg is at the top of the playing field, and Klobuchar’s attack may allow her to become one of the leaders in the pack. 

Women’s Rights and Abortion – After four debates, women’s rights finally took center stage for a good chunk of the Wednesday night debate. From abortion to paid leave, the moderators took turns asking important questions regarding health and comfort for women. All of the candidates were in agreement: Roe v. Wade has to stay. Some, like Klobuchar, even went as far as to say that the court case should turn into legislation. 

Elizabeth Warren – While the Senator didn’t pull off an out-of-this-world performance, Warren’s ability to expand on popular issues kept her central to the debate, coming out with the most amount of speaking time. She was extremely strong in the beginning, jabbing at Trump repeatedly, first about giving ambassador positions to those who paid most, and then to his meddling between Ukraine and Russia. Warren also made it clear that she would be willing to work with Republicans, something she hasn’t touched on in previous debates.

The Moderators (particularly Ashley Parker) – The moderators dove into topics that hadn’t been touched on in past debates, such as abortion, paid family leaves, and housing. These are issues that no other panel has previously brought up before but have left audiences impressed. Many twitter users had very positive reactions: 

Honorable Mentions 

Andrew Yang – Yang wasn’t given very many opportunities to talk. When he was able to talk, he used his time efficiently to address a variety of stories about families who came from everyday life, connecting to the foundations of the Democratic Party and the audience. However, one of his biggest points– that Papua New Guinea and the United States are the only countries without paid leave– came from an outdated study from over five years ago, placing him on the honorable mentions list. 

Kamala Harris – The senator rose to the occasion when Joe Biden stumbled, claiming that he was endorsed by the only African American woman senator, repeatedly jabbing him for forgetting about her. She was met with wild applause and created Joe Biden’s biggest blunder on the Wednesday night debate stage. However, her attempt to take down Gabbard was a bit of a flop. Harris framed Gabbard, saying that she spent her four years in the Obama administration in and out of Fox News, criticizing Obama. However, it’s reported that Gabbard only went in 15 times during those four years, and that Gabbard has gone in much more frequently since Trump took office. 


Trump – Although this was supposed to be a debate, there was no question that everyone was on the same page about defeating Trump. The previous democratic cannibalism faded quickly as all the candidates quickly mentioned that they would throw themselves behind whoever was ultimately chosen as the nominee. Trump was jeered at more than a couple of times over his criminal wrongdoings, including his mishandling of taxes, his interfering with Ukraine and his involvement with Russia. When asked what he would say to Putin after he was elected, Yang casually remarked, “sorry I beat your guy.” 

Climate Change – The topic has consistently ranked among the top concerns for voters in 2020, but tonight, just under five minutes of the debate were devoted toward exclusively covering climate change. Although Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang, and Pete Buttigieg all tried to throw climate change into the conversation, the moderators consistently ignored their repeated attempts. When climate change was finally discussed, things didn’t look much better. Candidates who talked about the issue addressed that it was concerning, but not a single one laid out any plan to initiate climate change reform. 

The Moderators – Previous debates have witnessed candidates repeatedly lashing out at each other, but this wasn’t the case this time around. Although the moderators explored topics that were less commonly asked about, they chose to ask about topics where all the candidates were in full agreement with each other. In other words, the debate moved away from arguments (only a few occurred throughout the entire debate) and into sessions where candidates would move back and forth, agreeing and adding onto each other’s statements. For a good majority of the debate, the questions asked made viewers question if there were any differences between the candidates at all. 

Joe Biden- Wednesday night was not Joe Biden’s night. Apart from his huge blunder with Kamala Harris, Biden had a fair share of other problems. When Klobuchar was discussing why there needed to be a woman president, Biden followed up by saying that while he wasn’t a woman, he was the most qualified candidate on stage. Booker was also able to knock Biden down during the marijuana portion of the debate, bashing Biden saying that marijuana should be illegal. Even Sanders was able to poke at the president during war and foreign policy clashes by questioning his voting history on devastating past wars the United States had been a part of. Joe Biden fumbled with each one of these comments and wasn’t able to respond to any of them particularly well. 

Tulsi Gabbard – Although Gabbard was able to stay afloat as Harris attempted to attack her, she didn’t leave much for people to remember during the debate tonight. Gabbard constantly brought up her military service, but hardly touched on policies, tending to loop around the few questions she was asked. She was not able to qualify for the October debate last month and needed the November debate to boost her rank in the polls. Unfortunately, her lackluster performance may have hurt her even more. 

Gun Control – As Elizabeth Warren casually brought up in her closing statement, there was no time given to gun control. With six school shootings in November so far and many conflicts on a smaller scale, it’s a shock that gun control wasn’t even hinted at during the debate. With approximately 64% of voters on Gallup asking for tighter gun control enforcement, it’s a debate that should be crucial towards winning votes in 2020. The issue’s absence was replaced by farming restrictions and other less influential topics. 

Featured Image via Bernie Sanders

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Joanna Hou
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Joanna Hou is a 16 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba. Instagram: joannah_11

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