Debate Number Nine

Last night’s debate was a good one.

Bloomberg was on the stage for the first time, so we got the fun of watching the seasoned candidates tear him apart. We got a glimpse of the hatred between Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar. People addressed the question of whether Bernie can win a general election.

Keep in mind that all the literature says that debates don’t matter. Most voters don’t watch them, and won’t make their decisions based on those performances. Ads, particularly negative ones, matter more.

I’m not sure what last night’s viewership numbers were, but the one in December brought in 6 million viewers, compared to 102 million for the SuperBowl. Since I’m the person who didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but has watched every debate, I have to keep in mind that I’m not your typical voter. And none of you are.

With Elizabeth Warren trailing in fourth place, this was a chance for her to make a last stand. She was fiery and aggressive with her hand up all the time. I liked that, but others might put her in the Hermione Granger box.

Biden loved that someone else was the target of attacks and that Klobuchar admitted forgetting the name of the President of Mexico (definitely not a strike against her in my book).

I thought Mayor Pete didn’t have a great night. He came off as smug and young.

Bernie is always consistent. Always stays on message. He won’t change his politics, if he makes it to the general election.

Bloomberg didn’t have a good night, but I’m not ready to discount him. He’s a really smart guy, who has a team of really smart people around him. They’ve done the math and run all the RISK strategies. They’ve gambled on him coming in at the last minute and missing the earlier fights. It means that he’s the flavor of the month in the media, but it also means that he hasn’t had enough practice on the debate stage or shaking hands. I’m super curious how this is going to work out for him. (I’m not endorsing his candidacy, just to clarify. I’m geeking out over strategies, that’s all.)

BTW, if you google “democratic debate” right now. The first item that comes up is a Mike Bloomberg ad.

31 thoughts on “Debate Number Nine

  1. I didn’t watch the debates, but I overheard parts. I’m still struck at how much Senator Sanders sounds like Super Dave Osborne.


  2. After the recession, the way the bailout went more to those causing the crash than those hurt by it, the rise of tech monopolies, and Trump’s normalization of white collar crime, I’m so over any objections I used to have to socialism. Capitalism is a nice theory, but in practice it doesn’t work.


  3. You’re right, debates don’t move votes. But they do create sound bites out of which media narratives can be built, and media narratives can affect the way people respond to ads, and that can move (a few) votes. This debate put out there for all the networks to clip and replay the building blocks for an anti-Bloomberg narrative; the anti-Bloomberg argument was well understood, but now maybe an actual narrative will emerge. “Dude is a rich, out-of-it, woman-hating, creepy guy buying your vote!” That might actually move some votes, maybe.


    1. I appreciate this characterization, which explained to me why I think the debates still matter, even if I don’t watch them and others pay attention even less.


  4. I think Klobuchar forgetting the name of Mexico’s president yet again, and being unable to discuss Mexican politics is a big problem.


    1. Agree. I’m against random gotcha fact testing, but it does signal a lack of preparation, and if she still doesn’t know it a lack of interest in being prepared, which is an issue for me.


      1. It’s not like they asked the leader of Andorra. They asked about one of our largest trading partners, one that is in the news about immigration and she didn’t know. She should know it because of her job, and she doesn’t.


  5. Bloomberg ads don’t come up for me, at least right now, when I search for the debate. I think the shape of our searches and social media feeds is individualized and we have to be careful about generalizations based on them. I for example am getting a great deal of pro-Warren amplification on my twitter feed. I’m not entirely sure why. Are the group academics I tend to follow a Warren clique? I think they might be.


  6. “I can’t speak for all billionaires” is a pretty hilarious pull quote. It appeared in my twitter feed and I had to look it up to see if it was real. It was. Apparently in answer to “Should billionaire’s exist?”.

    Mother Jones has a Bloomberg wealth animation. He could apparently buy 3 air craft carriers with his net worth.


  7. I block on names all the time, even my children’s names. It doesn’t mean I can’t eventually retrieve them–and it doesn’t mean that I don’t know a great deal about associated subjects.

    No ads show up when I google.

    I enjoyed our family grext with our grown children, all watching in different cities. The younger generation, none registered with a party, hated the moderators. And Chuck Todd’s hair. Some excerpts from our grext:

    Q(me): Why does Buttigieg not feel it is necessary to shave his face for this event?
    A: He’s trying not to look like a baby. He just looks like an unshaven baby tho.

    Observation: “99% of twitter is good people”… citation needed. I hate the whole thing of blaming a candidate for the worst of their supporters, but also twitter is Sheol.

    Q: Who do you think is winning right now?
    A1: Buttigieg
    A2: (refers to 538) Odds on, my choice (No one). Although–note especially how it rises with Bloomberg’s entrance, dividing the field just enough to make a brokered convention plausible. I expect the big winner tonight will be Sanders, not of anything he did right, but because this is a numbers game, and a long one.
    (same kid) Buttigieg has Cruz vibes. Good at debate–but smarmy, and everyone can tell.

    Looking at our family grext, I am surprised at how much the kids do not like Buttigieg.

    It seemed to me that Biden started out energetic, but wilted through the night. Klobuchar did well, finally dropping the “Minnesota Nice” to defend herself with vigor.

    But they do create sound bites out of which media narratives can be built, and media narratives can affect the way people respond to ads, and that can move (a few) votes.

    But we aren’t watching the same media any more. The people most likely to be affected by media narratives are senior citizens still watching the evening news.


  8. The traditional media isn’t as relevant as you think it is. Social media is more relevant. Facebook is key—people are talking to their friends and family via FB all the time, and a LOT of it is political. There is a hell of a lot of anti-Bloomberg messaging on FB (not all of it generatex by me, *wink*), and that is a common point of agreement between Democrats and Republicans.

    There is a very deep class divide in the U.S. The only people in my social circle who I can say for sure watched all the debates are my dad (he’s retired, and a Bernie supporter), and the chair of my Local’s PAC (I sit on the PAC too, and if I had to make a guess I’d say he’s leaning towards Warren because he thinks she’s more electable than Bernie).

    I haven’t watched any of the debates. I don’t need to. I remain a Bernie supporter. I will vote for Warren, or Buttegieg (Biden won’t make it). Under no set of circumstances am I voting for Bloomberg.

    If he becomes the frontrunner, you will see a repeat of what happened re: the Democratic Autopsy, only more dramatic failures since he has none of the advantages Hillary had. And some folks will wring their hands and wonder why and how that happened, as if Bloomberg’s own history doesn’t speak for itself. No amount of money can overcome the fatal flaws of his past.

    And ….his answer to the student loan crisis is garnishing wages? The FB traffic on that is amazing. There are so few things that function as lightning rods for unity-in-hatred in the political arena, but…that’s one of ’em.

    Anyway. I’m working out of state, so when I made a visit hime earlier in the week, me & my daugher voted. Like my dad (who also voted early), we voted Sanders. Most of the people I know who voted early did. He’s not popular because of ‘electability’ but because of his policy positions. He’s this era’s FDR.


  9. So Bloomberg is awful, but I will vote for him if he is the Democratic nominee. I don’t know what long game people who say they wouldn’t vote for him are playing, because things will be worse if Trump is elected. Pence is truly awful, but at this point, I prefer him to Trump, because I think Trump is doing more now than just pursuing wrong (terrible, potentially evil) policies. I think he’s undermining the rule of law and undermining the meaning of truth and undermining decision making. The attacks on the FBI, the Birmingham National Weather Service, the justice department, the Navy, . . . .

    I believe more and more people who thought they could do their jobs in relatively apolitical agencies are finding their jobs untenable as they are required to support Trump at his most irrational and that I expect to see a continued emptying out of competence in government every day that Trump is president. For example, at some point, I expect that the CDC will be compromised. I hope it’s not yet (though the battles between Verma & Azar at HHS makes me worry).


    1. Really? You’ll vote for Bloomberg? Then you can shut up about racism forever, because he absolutely is a racist.


      1. Speaking for myself, if I have the choice to make between a racist who flouts the rule of law regularly and a racist who might respect it most of the time, I will go for the latter.

        I have already voted for Warren in the primary because I will be out of the country on Mar 3.


      2. Wendy wrote, “Speaking for myself, if I have the choice to make between a racist who flouts the rule of law regularly and a racist who might respect it most of the time, I will go for the latter.”

        What was the legality of stop-and-frisk as practiced under Bloomberg?

        It’s arguably unconstitutional.


      3. A district court judge found stop and frisk violated the fourth amendment. Bloomberg appealed, but the appeal was dropped by De Blasio when he became mayor.


    2. Oh, he absolutely is racist, but if he wins the democratic nomination the people who voted for him will be less racist than the ones who vote for Trump. And that will influence his behavior (it already has). Unfortunately if Bloomberg won the nomination my choice would be to vote for the one less likely to make America’s racism worse.


  10. Is there a class divide in who is likely to watch the debates? I find that few people in my social class are likely to watch them, as well. I’ll note that I haven’t watched any, and expect I would learn nothing from watching.


    1. Only in the sense of working class people having less time, I think. I don’t know that I would watch the debates, since I’m not on the fence about anyone. But as it is, I’m working 6 days a week, 10 hour days on night shift, so my decision is made for me.

      I do think there is a class divide in people who are on the fence.


      1. I don’t believe there’s much class divide in hours worked in America (it may be different in Europe). I usually work 11.5 hour days (8:30 to 8) Monday through Thursday, 7.5 hours (8:30 to 5) on Fridays, and 3.5 hours (9 to 12:30) on Saturday. Those who want statistics instead of anecdotes can go here.


      2. y81 said, “I don’t believe there’s much class divide in hours worked in America (it may be different in Europe). I usually work 11.5 hour days (8:30 to 8) Monday through Thursday, 7.5 hours (8:30 to 5) on Fridays, and 3.5 hours (9 to 12:30) on Saturday.”

        I believe higher-income people work longer hours…but at the same time, different jobs offer different opportunities for spending time goofing off online during official working hours.

        “During most of the 1900s, the hours of work declined for most American men. But around 1970, the share of employed men regularly working more than 50 hours per week began to increase. In fact, the share of employed, 25-to-64-year-old men who usually work 50 or more hours per week on their main job rose from 14.7 percent in 1980 to 18.5 percent in 2001.

        “This shift was especially pronounced among highly educated, high-wage, salaried, and older men. For college-educated men, the proportion working 50 hours or more climbed from 22.2 percent to 30.5 percent in these two decades. Between 1979 and 2002, the frequency of long work hours increased by 14.4 percentage points among the top quintile of wage earners, but fell by 6.7 percentage points in the lowest quintile. There was no increase at all in work hours among high-school dropouts.”

        On the other hand, I have a German brother-in-law who works at Large US Corporation, and he gripes about how much time Americans spend at work not working.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t know what long game people who say they wouldn’t vote for him are playing, because things will be worse if Trump is elected.

    Oh? For whom?

    I don’t know what long game the Democratic party is playing by allowing him to run as a Democrat. I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head more deeply alienating to the base, and you’d think the leadership of the party would have learned their lesson from the fact that Hillary Clinton lost to Trump. I don’t know what long game the people who shrug and say they’d vote for Bloomberg anyway, despite his very racist, very sexist, anti-labor, very classist are playing either, other than the perennial “meh…he’d be good for my portfolio. if he’s not good for you? well, sucks to be you then. you don’t matter. vote for him anyway, because….reasons, or something like that.” “Vote for OUR oligarch!!” isn’t a message anyone is going to receive.

    I think the use of the word “game” here is enlightening. There’s a new book out on politics as a hobby,and I probably ought to read it so I can understand a view radically different from my own. To me, politics is not a hobby. It’s something that is dangerous—a force that is most often used against you. “You” as an individual, and “you” as your community. The only way to successfully counter that dangerous force and keep it from harming you is to band together in strength with people similarly situated. Politics is how you protect yourself. Politics is like union negotiations—it’s how you get what you want from someone who is dead-set against giving you a damn thing.

    So when I’m picking a candidate to back, that’s the mindset I have—is this a person that is allied with my interests enough that it’s worth giving up my time to phone bank or walk precincts for? Because if the answer is “no”—this person can’t be trusted to come through—then I’m not giving up precious moments of my life to work for them. When I was younger, I would vote for lukewarm candidates. Not anymore. I’ve had too long a political life of being Charlie Brown, playing football with political Lucys who snatched the ball away to leave me flat on my back. I’m done with that. Now, I ask more from politicians who want my vote, and if they aren’t willing to work for my interests, I’m not working for theirs.

    Politics isn’t entertainment for me. It’s maddening, every election season, to see and hear the naked contempt the “political class” has for me and mine. How worthless and disposable we are to them, even as they benefit (more than we do) from our labor. Too much contact with that makes be angrier than I want to be, so I consciously limit my engagement to deeper sources of knowledge (mostly print) than to “faster” media.

    Right now, I can’t get away from the fact that because of the loss of 2016, for the first time in my life, the media and political operatives are talking about the working class as if we are a force to be reckoned with. Because…we are. The completely unorganized, but de facto vote strike pushed universal healthcare and affordable college to the front burner—something that’s been needed for years, but dismissed by political leaders as too expensive, too unreasonable (even though we have the living, breathing example of other countries to follow). Another four years of Trump and I have no doubt the Democratic party will be pushing a progressive agenda. Or maybe not—maybe the tipping point won’t come until more demographic change occurs. But it will.


  12. I find the coverage of politics as entertainment entirely distressing. I’ve detailed the ways in which I think more trump will be bad for America regardless of the policies pursued by any other person. And unlike the white working class we continue to discuss, I think brown and black people (especially black) are taken for granted by the Democrats.

    We got the affordable care act, with all its flaws because we voted, not by striking. If Trump is re-elected we could loose even that, and although I have resources enough to do without insurance at all if that becomes necessary, I think real harm would be caused.

    But I’m done worrying about Bloomberg until the primaries are over.


    1. Ha. Steve must have read that same article and told me about the pricing issue. We got nailed with super expensive tickets, because we didn’t know about those deals and our plans were made very last minute.


  13. If it’s going to be Bernie, I will definitely talk to my Venezuelan-American buddy about making sure that her family in Florida votes against him.

    Florida is going to be HARD for Bernie, given the Venezuelans, the Cubans and the old people.

    If I’m reading this correctly, it looks like the last time that Florida didn’t vote with the presidential winner was 1992 (unless people still want to get salty about 2000).


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