What the debates taught us

Ira Lacher: “For many Americans who only experience candidates through email appeals or in prepackaged videos, the debates provided an opportunity to see them as people.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Now that the first Democratic presidential debates have come and gone, what have we learned?

Forgetting and ignoring what the national media have said, here’s what I learned from my own and others’ observations from two nights of debate-watching parties.

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Follow Cory Booker's lead

The College and Young Democrats of Iowa have urged all the presidential campaigns to pay their interns. Lucy Karlin writes about her experience working for Cory Booker this summer. -promoted by Laura Belin

I have been an unpaid intern on Democratic campaigns for the last three years, and the experiences have inspired me to pursue political science as a major in college. As I am now in college, I knew I had to make money this summer to help pay for tuition, but I was torn because I didn’t know if that would enable me to still be engaged in campaigns.

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Unforgivable

Ira Lacher: Biden “typifies the quintessential Democrat who inspired traditional Democrats to disaffect to Donald Trump in 2016: the Democrat who betrays party loyalists, and who continually fails to understand that it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” -promoted by Laura Belin

“Hide the hooch, Ethel! The Democrats are doin’ it agin’!”

Yes, they are. Joe Biden has foolishly bragged of his close working relationship with Senators James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, two of the upper chamber’s most virulent segregationists. According to the news outlet The Hill, Eastland blocked more than 100 civil rights-related bills during his time as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

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What candidates said about health care, reproductive rights at the Hall of Fame

Nineteen presidential candidates had five minutes each to make their case to more than 1,000 activists at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame event in Cedar Rapids on June 9. Most offered at least one really good applause line. Teams of reporters from the Des Moines Register and Iowa Starting Line pulled together some of the memorable parts of each speech here and here.

I decided to focus on how the candidates spoke about health care and women’s ability to access abortion for a couple of reasons. First, while the candidates highlighted a wide range of problems and proposals, almost all of them addressed those topics in some way.

Second, this post represents my gesture toward what media critic Jay Rosen has called the “citizens agenda” approach to covering campaigns. Although I lack survey data to know for sure what Iowa Democrats want the presidential contenders to be talking about, I believe health care and reproductive rights are among the most salient for caucus-goers, because:

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Joe Biden will probably lose Iowa

Dan Guild examines what history tells us about how to interpret the latest Iowa Democratic caucus poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register, Mediacom, and CNN. -promoted by Laura Belin

It has been two months since the last good Iowa caucus poll. This is actually unusual: you have to go back to 1996 to find a similar gap. So the latest poll by Selzer & Co (what does the Des Moines Register have against Saturday nights?) was eagerly anticipated.

Joe Biden announced his candidacy to great fanfare on April 25. Within two weeks, national polling showed him picking up between 10 and 15 points. But there is no national primary. I wrote here in March that I Biden was a VERY weak front runner based on his Iowa polling to date.

Ed Kilgore speculated around the time of Biden’s announcement that he had a “shock and awe” strategy.

Did that strategy work? Has it moved votes in Iowa?

Tonight the Des Moines Register provided its verdict: No.

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