If you are a registered Democrat, I want to congratulate you for surviving the first Democratic debate of what will be a very long election season. On almost a daily basis, someone asks me who I think will emerge victorious. In these incredibly politically turbulent times, I honestly cannot make a prediction as to who will be selected as the Democratic nominee. I have a few theories I will share over the next few months.
We do know that the candidates will need to make their case abundantly clear to the caucus voters in Iowa and the primary voters in New Hampshire. However, the important (and much more diverse) states of South Carolina and Nevada will follow shortly after. Granted, we are months away from those beginning state elections, but it is not too soon to think about how you will evaluate the various candidates. In all reality, many candidates may not make it to Iowa and New Hampshire, but in the event that they do, it is important to think about how you will evaluate your primary, secondary and even tertiary tier candidates.
Last week’s debate showed some candidates who are clearly in need of more media attention, some who we are still trying to figure out why they are onstage, and others still who receive copious amounts of attention that may not necessarily be deserved or sustainable. By all accounts, Julian Castro had the best debate surge on the first night. He showed that despite his reserved demeanor, he was able to present ideas cogently and clearly. Unfortunately for all of the candidates Wednesday night, they were eclipsed by the debate on the second night where Kamala Harris was the clear breakout star. Harris dismantled former VP Biden’s past voting record and statements he recently made that more than implied that he had previously and was currently willing to work with staunch segregationists to pass his agenda and legislation. Democratic voters definitely disagree as to whether Biden’s proclivity to work with white nationalists is the right thing to do in order to move democracy forward, but what cannot be disputed was Harris’ ability to use her prosecutorial experience to dismantle Biden’s arguments swiftly and adeptly.
It will be interesting to see how the next debate further showcases the talents and weaknesses of the candidates. As the candidates continue to crisscross the nation, they will need to fundraise and stay in the public (and the media’s) attention in order to qualify for the July 30 and 31 debates in Detroit. The divisions within the Democratic Party run deep. Will a progressive left leaning vision emerge or will the voters choose a more centrist candidate. I honestly can’t call it right now, so I suggest you continue to tune in.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC, and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.