First thoughts on the first Democratic debate

Two thoughts on the Democratic debate tonight.

Number one, Hillary Clinton held her own, and then maybe more so. She relentlessly came back again and again to attacking the Republicans. With an assist from Bernie Sanders, she disposed for the moment of the email controversy — for the evening. If her intention was to convince Democratic voters that she is a strong general election candidate — stronger than most current polls suggest — she probably succeeded. One possible result of this debate was a groundswell of Democrats saying Joe Biden must enter the race to save the party's chances. Recent polling makes that case. Clinton's performance severely undercut it. Chances of Joe Biden entering the race? A lot less than they were 24 hours ago.

Number two, a viewer from Mars might be surprised to learn that a Democrat has been president for the last seven years. The picture painted of a country in distress, in which ordinary people no longer have a chance to rise, overwhelmed the sometimes ritualistic and/or grudging praise for Barack Obama and administration. This, together with recent polling, suggests that Democrats' chance for winning a third consecutive presidential election is somewhere below rather than above the 50 percent that the smart poll analyst Nate Silver has been advancing.

Bottom line. The chances that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee have increased. The chances that the Democrats will win the presidency again have not.

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