Tuesday’s Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa, was a snoozer. Even the much-hyped conflict between Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over whether he told her a woman can’t be elected fell flat. Her refusal to shake his hand afterward was the closest thing the evening offered to real drama.
Candidates reinforced positions we’ve heard many times before. The real question is who did better or worse than expected and, for the second consecutive debate, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar shined brighter than forecast. It wasn’t enough, however, to vault her into the first tier of candidates.
The absence of game-changing moments isn’t surprising. It’s hard to score with six hopefuls on the stage, especially when candidates are being cautious ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Transformative debates come when the focus is on a few candidates or the exchange cements someone’s image for good in the middle of voting.
This leaves political junkies scouring the latest polls to divine what might happen Feb. 3, when Iowa Democrats meet to kick off their party’s 2020 presidential roller derby. Opinion surveys can be comforting due to their precision, expressing complicated dynamics in numbers sometimes carried to the tenth of a point.