It has been a good two weeks for Hillary Clinton. First came the opening debate where she did what she needed to convince the party faithful and the pundits she is the front runner. That leveraged into Vice President Biden announcing he will not run. Finally, she sat down in front of the Benghazi Committee of the House and made a good case that the whiff of scandal was behind her.
But more impressive than all this was how it happened. This was a team effort where the Democratic Party started to rally around her and unite. It’s what it will take to win the election – and today there is little doubt she is the odds-on favorite to be the next president.
Now that the dust has settled a bit on the debate we can assess its true impact. Barataria infamously predicted Gov O’Malley would be declared the “winner” largely because he had the most to gain by introducing himself. In a normal situation we could easily say he did just what he needed, but in this case it just wasn’t enough. Both Clinton and Sanders brought their top game and left O’Malley in a clear third. He simply can’t make up the ground.
Of course, it’s ridiculous to say anyone “won” a debate, especially a first debate, given that they all have different goals coming in. If there is a “winner” you cannot tell until much later, after the you can get a good read on the momentum of the race and whether or not the debate was a turning point.
But that was an important contention after the debate for the Sanders supporters, many of whom saw a vile conspiracy by the mainstream media (MSM).
Sanders, for his part, did a fabulous job introducing himself to those who didn’t know him and cranking up the already feverous passion among his followers. Many of them were furious when online polls handily declared Sanders the “winner” but the MSM declared Clinton took it. How could that be? Sanders’ young followers dominate the online space, filling every tiny corner with their boiling enthusiasm. The pundits of the MSM were looking at much more – and time has proven they had a point.
Clinton had the tough job of being both warm and human while looking tough and in control. She did that. And it did indeed pay off in a big way.
Three national polls have been done since the debate, and Clinton’s lead over Sanders widened from about 19% average between polls to about 26%. That’s a gain outside the margin of error on all of them. Any debate as to who “won” should end with these numbers, but it didn’t. All of those polls included Joe Biden.
Last Friday it was reported that Biden was calling around to labor leaders, seeking a final decision on whether or not to run. We can surmise what they told him given his announcement on Tuesday that “time had run out”. How was that? Because the party already united behind Clinton.
The final nail for Biden was when Rep Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said Biden shouldn’t run. Without key backing from a black leader and South Carolina Democratic icon, it was over. The party was already uniting behind Clinton in a major way.
Does anyone still want to argue whether or not Clinton “won” the debate?
Beyond all of this, Clinton still had the whiff of scandal following her. The stink was largely whipped up by the MSM, obsessed with the email scandal born as the evil child of Benghazi. No one alleged that was a conspiracy of some kind, however. Sanders did his part for the team by famously saying he was “Sick of the damned emails!”, but the real victory came on Thursday when Clinton testified in front of the Benghazi Committee.
Her performance? No one cares. She said little because she didn’t have to. Rep Elijah Cummings (D-MD) took on the job of impuning the integrity of the committee, saying the $4.7M cost should be charged to the Republican National Committee for their smear campaign. Clinton sat back and looked presidential while chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was forced to defend himself. Her only statements concerned how it weighed on her, making her warm and human, and how she took full responsibility for the event, making her look strong and in charge.
It was even better than the first debate.
We have yet to take a post-Biden poll for Clinton, and certainly there has not been time for the Benghazi hearing to work through the electorate. We do have some more instant results from those who are willing to put their money down at predictit.org, a political betting site. Far from scientific, it’s a good read of the political weather and the feeling among people who are really “into it”. Right now, a bet to win $1 on Clinton costs $0.53, meaning she has better than a 50/50 shot of winning – up from $0.42 two weeks ago. The cost for a $1 payout that she’ll get the nomination? $0.79, up from $0.63 before the debate.
That’s a good two weeks no matter how you look at it. But the number of Democrats who made it happen is even more impressive. From Sanders’ positive debate comments to union and officials’ backing that kept Biden out to the support she needed to put in a solid Benghazi performance, Democrats had her back.
Unity is what wins elections. Democrats are uniting well – behind the nominee presumptive Hillary Clinton. It will take a big change to have any other result at this point.