Democratic Debate In Vegas

Last night was not just the night where Mitt Romney managed to push his way back into the Republican primaries, but it also saw another Democratic debate; in fact, the first debate that was only between the three frontrunners for the nomination.  I didn’t get a chance to watch the debate, unfortunately, but I’ll be reading the transcript if and when I get the chance, and you can too right here.

While I didn’t get a chance to watch it, by all accounts it seems to have been a pleasant affair void of the fireworks and antagonism that plagued just about every other debate thus far.  This is undoubtedly a result of all three campaigns realizing that the negative tone that the contest has adopted isn’t really helping anyone.  That means that the debate probably wasn’t my cup of tea anyway, considering fireworks make for big headlines, while congeniality tends to die off pretty quick.

The Carpetbagger Report, I think does a good job of laying out the highlights of last night’s event, so go ahead and give it a read.  All in all, given that not many hard attacks were made and there weren’t any glaring missteps or gaffes (except maybe one by Brian Williams who mistook Las Vegas for Los Angeles at his own peril), I think the debate will have little effect on the standings.  Without fireworks, and with all the candidates sounding good, there’s really no room for major movement in the polls.

Where this might have an effect is in overall voter turn out and enthusiasm among Democrats.  One of the reason I think Democrats were so enthusiastic at the beginning of the preseason is because of the depth of the Democratic field, and the early on civility that stood in stark contrast to their Republican counterparts.  But as the race drug on, fatigue set in, and nastiness filtered into the contest, it wouldn’t be long before the negative tone began to have a lasting effect on the voters.

An event like this is just what the doctor ordered to keep Democratic enthusiasm high.

Another thought that I think bears attention is a trend pointed about by Mike Lux writing for OpenLeft.com.  It’s not really a new idea, but one that some of the candidates seemed to have forgotten; voters don’t vote for the guy who’s yelling.  Edwards is often seen as the most progressive of the top three candidates in the Democratic race, but despite perhaps being more ideologically in line with the base, he’s never been able to gain the traction needed to dig himself out of perpetual third place spot he’s currently in.

It’s not that his policy proposals are bad, it’s just that being angry and standoffish all the time is not the kind of packaging that will help your message resonate with a majority of the voters.  Couple this with my take on Hillary and her negative campaigning, and we see that the old standby holds true.  You can get it done by being angry, by yelling, by slinging mud, but it’s simply better if you don’t.

If the peace of last night holds true, that could have a lasting dynamic on the rest of the primaries.  But then, what are the chances of that actually happening?

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