Seth Abramson @SethAbramson Attorney. @Newsweek columnist. NYT bestselling author of a book on Trump's Iran policy, Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, Professor. Jun. 26, 2019 1 min read

Devil's advocate: as Biden plummets, Sanders maxes out, Buttigieg gets 2% of black voters⁠—a non-starter⁠—and Gabbard remains off-grid policy-wise, are the real leaders Warren, Harris, O'Rourke, Booker?

Three of them debate tonight. Maybe media got wrong which night is bigger?

1/ I'm not supporting any candidate here, nor writing off anyone. I'm just observing the significance of having support among the African American community as a Democratic primary candidate; the fact that Biden hasn't had a "good day" yet; and that Bernie seems to have a "cap."

2/ I also think, as a political observer not as someone who has a candidate preference, that the media was too quick to say that the second night was a bigger deal than the first. It's *so* early. There's every reason to think Booker and O'rourke have *substantial* room to climb.

3/ Finally, I'd note that this "devil's advocate/medium-term" "real frontrunners" theory of the Democratic field also posits two entirely *plausible* 2020 Democratic tickets: Warren/Booker and Harris/O'Rourke (we won't see Warren/Harris or Harris/Booker for strategic reasons).

4/ And of course both nights feature people who could have breakouts, at least *as compared to* where they're currently polling, with tonight's most likely candidates being Castro, De Blasio and Klobuchar (probably in that order). A bit harder to see any "second night" breakouts.

5/ In any event, I'll say again that I think in the medium- and long-term there may end up being more significance to tonight's debate than tomorrow night's. Not a view we're really hearing in the media, but I think the media is somewhat foolishly working *exclusively* off polls.

PS/ To be clear, in the short-term there's no denying that Biden and Bernie are doing well and even in the medium-term you have to think Biden and Bernie are likely have an 8% to 12% "floor" that Beto and Booker haven't hit yet. I was trying to imagine the narrative in late fall.

You can follow @SethAbramson.


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