December 13, 2007

Peeking In On The Democrats (Update: Who Won?)

I'll do something today I've mostly avoided this year -- watch the Democratic presidential debate. I consider the party debates to be mostly internal affairs, and have contented myself to dissecting transcripts after the fact. With this being the last major debate before the Iowa caucus, I'm going to take the time to peek in on the Democrats to see whether (a) they do any unusual damage to themselves, and (b) whether the Des Moines Register learned any lessons from yesterday's debate.

You can keep up with the debate at Heading Right, where I will live-blog the show. My final analysis will appear in this post after the debate's conclusion.

UPDATE: Well, if this debate gives any indication, I haven't missed much. Partly this comes from the Washburn model of debate, which reduces everything to 30-second sound bites. That has some relation to yesterday's debate, but Washburn got weaker and softer overnight. She tossed softballs for almost the entire debate, only asking anything remotely challenging during the "character" round. One of the questions was on signing statements, a rather obvious invitation to bash Bush.

Not surprisingly, the candidates reflected the dullness of the debate. Joe Biden had a cold and had an excuse for dullness, but Hillary can only blame herself. She tried offering a personal anecdote that attempted to shave a decade off her age, but other than that showed no warmth or emotional connection through most of the debate. Richardson didn't move the needle much, either.

Barack Obama probably won this debate, and Edwards maybe a close second. Both of them sounded like themselves. Edwards spent the entire debate talking about "corporate greed", but Obama provided more responsive answers. He handled the actual questions rather than repeat campaign slogans -- even though Edwards did that very well.

Frank Luntz is conducting his Fox focus group review, and Hillary scored very badly with Iowa Democrats. They called her tired, and they themselves are tired of hearing about the 1990s. She may run into an Iowa buzz saw in three weeks.


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