Tonight marks the third round of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate schedule. Some would argue that it’s the first real debate, because it’s the first time the top candidates have all been on stage together, as opposed to having been semi-randomly divided across two nights during the first two rounds. Here are the key points to look for tonight.
Elizabeth Warren on the rise: Last night, former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell published an op-ed in which he somewhat disingenuously attacked Elizabeth Warren over her fundraising approach. This is a clear sign that Warren is on the rise. What’s not clear is whether Rendell is acting on his own (he tends to be erratic with these things), or if another candidate put him up to it. Keep an eye tonight on whether any of the other major candidates uses the Rendell piece to attack Warren, or if they all have the sense to just ignore it.
Joe Biden’s winning streak: Despite some attacks from his primary opponents, and a number of recent gaffes, Biden is still very much in first place in the latest polling averages. Thus far, nothing that’s happened has hurt him. With all the top candidates finally on stage together tonight, audiences might finally begin taking the debates more seriously. Watch for how Biden performs tonight, and more importantly, how his performance impacts his poll numbers (if at all) over the next week.
Kamala Harris isn’t going away: We all watched Kamala dominate the first debate, but her poll numbers only went up incrementally because of it, and she’s nowhere near the top of the polls. Still, she’s a strong debater, and she isn’t going away. What approach will she take tonight?
Andrew Yang is also here: He’s a smart guy, but during the first debate he didn’t sound like he was fully up on the issues. During the second debate, he sounded much more authoritative on the issues. He’s only polling at around 3%, but he’s getting a lot of attention lately.
Beto O’Rourke wildcard: Since the El Paso mass shooting took place in Beto’s backyard, we’ve watched him throw caution to the wind, as he passionately doubles down on gun control – while also taking some profanely honest shots at the media. At this point he’s a wildcard, and there’s no telling what he’ll say tonight.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report