The 2nd Democratic debate last night revealed some interesting things about the Democratic Party. Each candidate had their own moment, for Sanders it was the quote “I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower“, and for O’Malley it was calling Trump an “Immigrant-Bashing carnival barker” and oddly enough for Clinton, it was using 9/11 to justify taking corporate donations. But it was about all that was expected.
Many of the internet polls after the debate showed Sanders to have won the debate by at least 70%-90%, but many still proclaim for the average viewer that Clinton won the debate. This comes at an unfortunate time, the latest poll shows that in the early voting state of New Hampshire Clinton leads by 21 points, just last months Sanders was leading. The results are similar in Iowa, while Sanders and Clinton were tied at one point, Clinton now leads by over 18 points.
Although the trends are likely to change, it is evident that the Sanders momentum is slowing down. During the scandals with Clinton concerning her email usage, Sanders appealed to many as the honest alternative, but with Biden announcing he isn’t running and Clinton giving an impressive rebuttal during the Benghazi hearing, it appears Clinton is back on track. Perhaps people have restored faith in her. I find this interesting due to a CBS poll that found in the category of honesty, people view Sanders ahead of Clinton by 28 points and in the area of shared value by 2 points. Clinton leads only in the area of leadership. Yet, even Sanders is seemingly more favored by voters, the same poll says Clinton won the debate over Sanders by 23 points.
I fear that if the same mistakes in the Sanders campaign continue, any hope of victory will be lost. I understand that when the actual vote comes to, people could change their mind, but that’s only a maybe. The first problem with the campaign is that it is purely economic. Sander’s forte comes with talking about income inequality and the issues that come as a result. But even in the wake of the Paris attacks, Sanders still focused on economics. The #1 issue last night according to twitter was foreign policy, and still with the opening statements supposed to be their views about the attack, Sanders quickly said some remarks and switched to his economic views. I am not the only one that found this awkward.
If Sanders continues to show his weakness in terms of foreign policy, which happens to be Clinton’s strength, it will have serious repercussions on the campaign. I’m not saying that he has to switch his focus of the campaign, quite the contrary, but he simply needs to show he has an apt understanding of it.
The second issue is his unwillingness to go after Clinton. There were moments when Sanders absolutely had the chance to knock her out of the park, yet he didn’t. The first comes to mind when the discussion was about campaign donations. Sander’s remarks were indirectly towards Clinton taking corporate donations. If he had just pressed further he could have put her into a tight spot. Instead he insinuated the message was towards her.
One of the goals is to change the way people view Clinton, and there were many chances last night. If Sanders had emphasized his taking donations only from small contributors and persecuted Clinton for her corporate money, that would have been the big moment of the debate. But he yet it slide. I understand it is part of Sander’s integrity to not say anything bad about his opponent, and I’m not saying he should run negative campaign adds, but simply be more aggressive during the debates. I honestly believe people are tired of establishment politics, and despite Clinton trying to repaint herself as some progressive leader, Sanders needs to shatter the image of her. It would be so easy, yet he doesn’t. Another example of this was during the live tweet question that came for Clinton, the where she explained why she took corporate money and used 9/11 as a justification. Now, already people are fairly upset over that, but if Sanders had called her out that would have won him the debate. But he let it slide.
I believe many people don’t trust Clinton, and it will probably take another scandal or controversy to bring her down. All it takes is for one more and I predict that will be the end of her. Sanders has a good message but the strategies of spreading that message need to be changed a little bit. Hopefully within the next while before the Iowa and New Hampshire votes the excitement for Sanders will pick up more. If he does manage to win the early election states then it will finalize to the whole nation that Sanders is an electable candidate.