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Winners and Losers of the Nevada Democratic Debate

The New Hampshire debate was hosted by NBC, MSNBC, and the Nevada Independent on February 19th, 2020. The debate featured 6 candidates: Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Mike Bloomberg. The moderator panel consisted of NBC’s Hallie Jackson, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd and Vanessa Hauc and the Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston. It was hosted in Nevada (particularly, Las Vegas), where the third primary is expected in late February. This was the last debate before the NV primary. Here are the Winners and Losers from the Nevada Democratic Debate.

Watch the full debate here


Elizabeth Warren (Winner of the Night) – After a series of disappointments for the Senator back in both Iowa and New Hampshire, this debate might finally be enough to save Elizabeth Warren’s spiraling campaign. In New Hampshire, Warren’s inability to separate herself from Sanders was something that really hurt her throughout her campaign. This is because a majority of progressive voters saw Sanders as a better progressive candidate than Warren was. Thus, Warren lost a lot of votes. Tonight, she made sure to stand strong on nearly every issue. Instead of just re-affirming her beliefs, Warren jumped into the offensive, attacking many candidates who beat her in New Hampshire. Take the portion where she said Klobuchar’s healthcare plan was equivalent to a post-it note saying “insert plan here,” or when she said that she was capitalist in order to distance herself from Sanders. Warren pushed policy aggressively and that made her memorable. She delivered both of the lines of the night against Mike Bloomberg. The first one, “A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” The second moment was when she cornered Bloomberg on his non-disclosure agreements, asking if he would ever let women speak up. His inability to answer the question only boosted Warren tonight. It was great timing for Warren too, who really needs to surge after a disappointing two states. After the debate, she also raised the most amount of money ever. 

Pete Buttigieg – Buttigieg gave another consistent performance on Wednesday night, appealing to a broad range of Democrats extremely well. Buttigieg is focused on attracting moderate Democratic voters over to his camp. He made this the central point of his debate and consistently brought his points back to the concept of being in the middle of all the chaos. A big moment of the night was when Buttigieg said that Sanders and Bloomberg were both too polarizing and wouldn’t be able to attract the other side of the party. Seeing Bloomberg falter was a huge win for Buttigieg since they are going after the same voter pool. Beyond that, Buttigieg furthered his distance from Sanders, increasing his distance from progressive Democrats and thus attracting more moderate voters. He also definitely won over Klobuchar tonight. Klobuchar has consistently targeted Buttigieg for his inexperience, but finally, Buttigieg delivered a major line of the night, telling Klobuchar, “you don’t have to be in Washington to matter.” This was met with massive approval from the audience and might mark the last time Klobuchar really pushes Buttigieg on his experience. Buttigieg already performed unexpectedly well in both Iowa and New Hampshire, meaning that he didn’t need to deliver shockwaves in Las Vegas. He did anyway though. 

Bernie Sanders – The Senator didn’t need to do well tonight to hold a comfortable place in the party, but he still performed well. He stressed wealth inequality, as usual, but Bloomberg’s presence really added fuel to the fire. Sanders finally had someone he could really target over the wealth issue and he pressed Bloomberg over all of his moneymaking policies. He held his ground well in healthcare and climate change. Sanders also thanked Nevada for his quality healthcare during his heart attack, something that the audience cheered for. Overall, it was another solid performance for Sanders, which is all he really needs. 

Girl Power – What a night for women. The issue of women’s rights came up just a couple minutes into the debate and stayed as one of the top issues. The five veteran debaters all sprung up onto Mike Bloomberg and attacked him in every regard over his misogynistic record. This is also the issue where Warren made her biggest comeback, highlighting her record on helping women and their families through difficult times. It was definitely the first debate where women’s rights were put on full display and thus, it was a big win for the issue. 

The Debate – After a couple of failures, the Democratic Debate in Las Vegas was shockingly, actually a debate. There were solid arguments on policy, critiques of peoples’ plans and some solid back and forth arguments. Every candidate seemed uniquely different on Wednesday night, with each standing out (for good or bad) in their own ways. While in the past, candidates have typically fully agreed with each other, everyone seemed very eager to tear the rest of the field to pieces. That means that viewers were finally able to see the differences between each of the candidates, particularly between Sanders and Warren. 

Climate Change – Moderator Vanessa Hauc was the first climate journalist ever to be featured on a moderator panel. With her presence came sixteen minutes of policy-specific climate change questioning, the most of any debate. Candidates were asked about fracking, electrification and US leadership, among several other policies. These were all new questions that candidates haven’t addressed before and viewers were able to take in tons of new information.


Mike Bloomberg (Biggest Loser, by far) – Bloomberg might as well have just missed out on another debate. The outcome probably would have been better for him because Wednesday’s performance was horrific. Bloomberg saw attacks from every person on stage and he wasn’t able to respond to any of them. While candidates typically post highlights from the debate on their social media feeds, the only debate post on Bloomberg’s feed is a photoshopped video of the debate. It shows all five candidates being unable to respond to his argument. However, this didn’t happen. Bloomberg had to rely on a falsified moment to find even one debate highlight for himself. He got tripped up on every policy, from gender, to wealth, to healthcare. Even Joe Biden, typically known for lackluster attacks, got to ensnare Bloomberg a couple times over his apparent hatred for Obamacare. Another fail for Bloomberg was when he referred to Sanders as a “communist,” something that proves he hasn’t done his research very well. Overall, it was a shabby performance for the former mayor. Everyone was expecting him to get some heat for being the newcomer, but somehow Bloomberg fell below those expectations and was completely ripped to pieces. 

Joe Biden – Joe Biden is, well, still relying on his time in the Obama administration way too much. He cited Obama in nearly every policy issue during the debate, from healthcare to immigration. By the looks of it, Biden doesn’t seem to stand a chance with his own policy. Biden also lost a ton of speaking time during this debate, likely because he’s been placing so low in primaries. He had to make use of the limited time he had and he didn’t do very well with it. 

Amy Klobuchar – The Minnesota senator is typically known for being a strong performer on stage, but in Las Vegas that didn’t really happen. Klobuchar was targeted more by moderators on Wednesday than ever before, likely because of her solid performance in New Hampshire. Thus, she was questioned on many of her past mistakes that didn’t come up before. When questioned about forgetting the Mexcian president’s name, Klobuchar still hesitated while trying to remember his name for the second time. Her healthcare points were weak and she wasn’t able to really join in on the conversation about women’s rights, which is surprising since she’s been a leading speaker on the topic for several decades. Then, she couldn’t defend voting to confirm Kevin McAleenan, the Homeland Security Secretary who has become notorious for his child separation policy. In a state like Nevada, which is home to almost 800,000 Hispanics, her inability to address her mistakes over immigration will hurt her. Overall, it just wasn’t the best night for Klobuchar. 

The Delegates Question – The question posed about what to do if the DNC comes out with a contested result was pretty useless. Viewers basically learned that every candidate except Bernie Sanders wanted the convention to run its course with electorate votes. Sanders wanted the convention to pick whoever got the most delegates (which come from popular votes.) It was pretty clear that the only reason why Sanders wanted the DNC to choose whoever received the most delegates was because he’s in the lead. 

Featured Image via NBC @ 54:27

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Joanna Hou
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Joanna Hou is a 17 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.

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