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Winners, Losers From The Detroit Democratic Debate

Winners, Losers From The Detroit Democratic Debate

Who "won" and who "lost" this week's Democratic debate in Detroit?

That's hard to say before any new large-scale polling comes out. Checking with the pundits can give a sense of what the pros thought, but there's little widespread agreement.  Even the most experienced campaign watchers know debates are hard to “win,” and many candidates basically just hope not to lose.

Larry Sabato, one of the best-known and most experienced campaign watchers, said frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden essentially needed to maintain the status quo, and Sabato thinks he did — but who knows?  

The debate was split into two nights, with 10 candidates sparring Tuesday and another 10 Wednesday.

That also makes it harder to crown a "winner," because candidates only had to face half their opponents.

While Biden had to fend off criticism from somewhat well-known candidates like senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, he didn't have to spar with the party's other best-known candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who debated Tuesday.

Let’s look at a few metrics from Tuesday and Wednesday night's debates that can be measured. 

Screen Time Winners: Biden, Warren

The worst part about being the frontrunner is being attacked the most. The best part is getting attention for being attacked the most. Biden was on TV the most — and that’s a win.

CNN tracked the speaking time of the candidates and reported that Biden was on screen talking for 21 minutes and 1 second during Wednesday's debate, more than 3 minutes more than his closest Wednesday opponent, Harris, who was on screen talking for 17 minutes 43 seconds. 

On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got just under 19 minutes of speaking time, just ahead of Sanders, who got about 17 minutes. 

Screen Time Losers: Yang, Hickenlooper

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper received the least amount of speaking time during the debates. Both were on on air for less than 8 minutes and 40 seconds.  

Google Winners: Gabbard, Williamson

The most-Googled candidates during the debates were U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and author Marianne Williamson. 

Familiarity is critical, and more people became more familiar with them during the debate than anyone else, though hardly anyone gives either a chance of lasting long in the primaries.

Gabbard was the most-searched Democratic candidate during the debate in every single state in the nation on Wednesday night, according to Google Trends. Ahead of the debate, Biden led in that category in most states by far. 

Before and after: the #DemDebate candidates in search.

In Tuesday night's debate, little known activist and author Williamson became somewhat more known as Americans quickly took to the Google page to see just who she was.

It's impossible to say who lost the Googling battle.

A look at the transcript of Wednesday's debate shows the word "climate" was mentioned 23 times, thanks in part to the participation of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — the issue is central to his campaign. It was mentioned even more — 28 times — during Tuesday's debate. 

Advocates for stronger climate policy had criticized the Democrats for only discussing climate for a few minutes in their June debate.

"China" was mentioned just eight times Wednesday night, "education" eight times, "immigration" 15 times and "interest rates" just once. The word "gun" was not mentioned at all Wednesday, though it came up 15 times Tuesday. 

Health care, as expected, received tons of talk time. The word "health" was mentioned 111 times on Tuesday and another 72 times Wednesday. 

While the word "immigration" wasn't popular, the subject was talked about. The word "border" was a winner,  coming up 29 times Tuesday and 19 Wednesday.

OK, now for a more subjective measure.

Best Line:  Gillibrand's Clorox Remark

“The first thing that I’m going to do when I’m president is I’m going to Clorox the Oval Office," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said Wednesday, which lead her to clean up on Facebook and Twitter. 

Related Links:

'Go Easy On Me, Kid': Biden, Harris, Democratic Underdogs Scrap In Detroit

420 In 2020: Every Democratic Presidential Candidate's Cannabis Position

Author Marianne Williamson onstage at a Democratic debate at Detroit's Fox Theatre on Tuesday, July 30. Photo courtesy of CNN. 

Posted-In: Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Cory BookerNews Politics Events Interview General Best of Benzinga


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