Thirteen quick takes on the November Democratic debate

With four presidential contenders packed closely together at the top of the field and a majority of Democratic voters not yet committed to a candidate, televised debates could make or break several campaigns between now and the February 3 Iowa caucuses. As Dan Guild discussed here, debates have fueled breakouts for some lower-polling candidates in past election cycles.

If you missed the fifth Democratic debate on November 20, you can read the full transcript here. My thoughts on the evening in Atlanta:

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The Des Moines Register poll shows Buttigieg can win Iowa. But...

The latest Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom did what November Des Moines Register polls often do: shake up perceptions of the presidential race.

Buttigieg’s historic rise (I will show how historic in a minute) is stunning. While I am skeptical he is really ahead of everyone else by 9 points–another poll released on November 17 showed him 1 point behind both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden–the idea that he leads and is well over 20 is believable. But the horse numbers underestimate what Buttigieg has accomplished. He is the best-liked candidate as well as the one being considered by the most voters.

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It's getting late for the lower tier in Iowa

What Dan Guild found after analyzing decades of Iowa caucus polling from this point in the election cycle. -promoted by Laura Belin

For candidates struggling nationally, Iowa is the last, great hope.

I have been on campaigns like those. You draw hope from stories of conversion. A vice-chair of a town committee announces their support, or a canvasser talks to someone who just converted from the front-runner to you. You think, just another debate, or a new set of ads. Then one fine morning, a poll will show…

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Warm, yet fierce: Why I am supporting Kamala Harris

Norene Kelly is State Representative Karin Derry’s volunteer campaign manager. Derry flipped Iowa House district 39 in 2018 and is running for re-election in 2020.

“Be sure about your answer, sir.”

Senator Kamala Harris first got my attention at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. She was focused and prosecutorial. Her legal background was an obvious advantage. She can be simultaneously steely and smiling. Pressure doesn’t faze her—it empowers her. Wow, I thought, I hope she runs for president.

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Tears for the top tier

Ira Lacher: “Democrats have never gotten it through their heads that the primary season is not about picking the person who would make the best president.” -promoted by Laura Belin

“I think the vast majority of primary voters are now realizing there’s only one of two or three possible winners.” — Paul Maslin, Democratic pollster, in Saturday’s New York Times

I suppose those would be the candidates who have led the polls from the get-go: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

If that remains the case, get used to four more years of Donald Trump.

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Biden following Clinton's 2008 Iowa footsteps. Will Warren's surge hold?

Dan Guild puts the latest Iowa caucus poll for the Des Moines Register in historical context. -promoted by Laura Belin

In March of this year, I wrote that Joe Biden’s numbers looked weak for a front-runner. When Selzer & Co’s last poll of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers came out in June, Biden’s numbers were so weak that I wrote he will probably lose Iowa.

Selzer’s new Iowa Poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom finds Biden losing support since the early summer. It also finds a new front-runner in Iowa who is in the midst of a surge nationally as well: Elizabeth Warren.

Before we get to the horse race numbers, let’s start with the single most important finding from the poll released on September 21:

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