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Winners and Losers of the New Hampshire Democratic Debate (February 7th)

The New Hampshire debate was hosted by ABC News on February 7th, 2020. The debate featured 7 candidates: Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer. The moderator panel consisted of ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Linsey Davis. It was hosted in New Hampshire, where the second primary is expected in early February. This was the last debate before the NH primary. Here are the Winners and Losers from the New Hampshire Democratic Debate.

Watch the full debate here.

Winners:

Amy Klobuchar (Winner of the Night)- There’s no doubt that Amy Klobuchar was above the pack tonight. The Senator definitely came out of the debate with the line of the night, questioning Buttigieg’s potential ability to be president by quoting him during the impeachment process. Buttigieg had said that he was fed up with politics and that the process was exhausting, making him want to only watch cartoons. Klobuchar used this to both bring down Buttigieg and boost her own experience. If Buttigieg couldn’t even handle impeachment, Klobuchar fairly asserted that maybe he wasn’t ready for the presidency. It was a smart move on Klobuchar’s part considering Buttigieg’s major win in Iowa. Apart from that line, the Senator gave a strong performance, relaying her knowledge on most of the major topics. She also didn’t receive any attacks from other candidates, adding on to her already great debate and making her the winner of the night. 

Pete Buttigieg- There’s no questioning that Buttigieg fumbled with Klobuchar’s attack, but he was able to recover well. Buttigieg said that he was speaking for Americans when he said that politics were becoming too exhausting. Tonight he had a great performance, especially when he said he would be able to capture the same audience Trump had in the Midwest. Voters who were worried that Buttigieg might not be able to tackle Trump were further comforted through foreign policy, where Buttigieg confidently tackled military issues through his own experience. He didn’t need to do anything revolutionary to stay on top, but Buttigieg certainly still had an extremely strong performance. 

Bernie Sanders- After the Iowa caucuses, it was obvious that Sanders came out almost on top. The only candidate who shares mostly similar ideologies with the Senator is Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In order to do well this debate, all Sanders needed to do was avoid any major arguments with Warren, which he did. Sanders spoke with tons of force on the trade deal issue, pushing for the Climate, a top issue amongst 2020 voters. The issue was only lightly discussed tonight, meaning that Sanders clinched a top spot on a big issue. Like Buttigieg, Sanders didn’t need to do well, just hold his ground. He did that just fine. 

Unity (?): It was a big night for Democratic unity. Pete Buttigieg stood up for Joe Biden and Hunter Biden after Trump bashed both the former Vice President and his son. Joe Biden, in turn, said that he had nothing against Bernie in the wake of Clinton accusations earlier this week and the two even hugged on stage. Even Klobuchar and Buttigieg, who have taken major hits at each other throughout the debates, toned their arguments down. Tom Steyer told all the candidates that any of their healthcare plans were better than Trump’s current ideas. However, this isn’t exactly a win.

Losers: 

Joe Biden– After a horrible loss in Iowa, Biden needed something to step up his game. Instead, his debate was shallow and unamusing. Biden started off his night by saying that he knew he would do horribly in New Hampshire. He relied (per usual) on his experience and record as Vice President. Biden constantly brought up his dedication and hard work on Obamacare and had nothing new to say. He sounded like he had already completely given up on even amassing any support in New Hampshire, focusing his time on how he could do well in South Carolina. It probably wasn’t the best strategy, considering that the debate was meant to inform New Hampshire voters. 

Elizabeth Warren- Going into the debate, Warren needed to tug at Sanders’s strings. The two of them are competing for progressive voters, who clearly preferred Sanders to Warren in Iowa. In 2016, Sanders completely swept New Hampshire during the primary season. Odds are already stacked against Warren for the progressive state, where she needs a win to keep her funding levels up and her campaign moving. The Senator needed to highlight her differences with Sanders and set herself apart. Instead, she focused on the same old party platforms and didn’t even bother to go after Sanders once, a strategy that will likely hurt her in the upcoming primary. 

Andrew Yang- Yang fought heavily with the DNC to get himself on stage in January. When that didn’t happen, he vowed to get back on stage for the New Hampshire debates. It wasn’t really worth the effort. The moderators gave more time to every other candidate, including Tom Steyer (who practically polled at 0% in Iowa.) While Yang made some good points in the 8 minutes of speaking time he had, there were no incredible moments for the candidate. For a first debate back, it was a mediocre (if not bad) performance that likely won’t help him at all in the New Hampshire primary. 

Tom Steyer- The billionaire had a pretty horrible night. Steyer added little (if anything) to the conversation tonight. He repeatedly interrupted candidates in order to re-emphasize that the focus needed to be on defeating Trump. Steyer repeated this point over five times during the debate and was met with less and less applause. Most awkwardly, Steyer tried to tell Buttigieg that he needed experience to take on Trump, but Steyer has had little to no experience in the political field. The comments he made didn’t make sense and gave him a solid spot on the loser’s list. 

The Moderators- While they handled candidates going over time better than any other set of moderators (no one had to be cut off) the questions that were asked tonight were nothing new. The debate wasn’t different from any other debate and there was no new policy discussed (besides Trump’s acquittal, but that’s not exactly policy.) The moderators Friday night were all top political reporters and so their lackluster performance was disappointing at best. 

The Debate- Debates are supposed to involve disagreeing and finding the minute differences between candidates, but that didn’t happen at all. The constant agreement left voters confused about if the candidates had any differing beliefs and disagreements typically weren’t policy focused (except for the trade deal differences, but those were already established in January’s debate.) New Hampshire voters who tuned in to evaluate policy likely didn’t gain much from the debate and nothing really split any one candidate from the other.  

Featured Image via ABC News @ 1:05:14

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Joanna Hou
Written By

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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