Primer for Tonight’s Fourth Democratic Debate

Dem Debate

Don’t worry, the NFL playoff games will be finished before the debate. We hope…



As you probably don’t know – because it’s barely being talked about – the fourth Democratic Primary debate is tonight. And while there is playoff football to be watched, this debate has gotten more important since Bernie Sanders has gained significant ground on Hillary Clinton in both the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. So get hyped!


Hillary Clinton is Not Impressed


Or not.


Regardless here’s some primer for tonight’s fourth Democratic primary debate.



Game’s the Same, Just Got More Fierce


I don’t think there’s a quote from The Wire that describes the fundamental difference between the debates leading up to an election year and the debates that take place in an election year! We’re in the heart of primary season, so more people are paying attention. That basically means every debate performance just got that much more meaningful for the candidates on stage. So does that mean if Bernie Sanders wins Iowa primaries he’ll win the Democratic ticket? Of course not, because remember in the last election cycle Rick Santorum won the Iowa primaries and look how that turned out.


In the long view of things, Iowa and New Hampshire are just battles that are part of a larger war. But if you’re Hillary Clinton, you don’t want your appearance of being the eventual nominee to be in jeopardy, because then these smaller battles could win the entire primary. For that reason if you’re Clinton you bring you’re “A game” to tonight’s debate, not for Iowa and New Hampshire per say, but for the primary battles to come. After all, these primaries just got a whole lot fiercer!



This Schizophrenic Election Cycle of 2016


For those that don’t know, Nate Silver – the excellent political statistician/journalist that most assume is a witch because in politics people don’t understand how the concept of math works – unveiled his most recent predictions for both the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. While a political journalist unveiling his predictions for primaries that are coming up very soon isn’t necessarily news, what’s interesting here is how he unveiled his predictions.


He decided to unveil two predictive models of what might happen.


In the first model he calls “polls-only”, in that it’s based solely on polls for a particular state, similar to how most news coverage of these primaries has gone thus far. In the other model, which he calls “polls-plus”, he weighs in the variables of endorsements along with national polls and tries to consider the outside effects of state centric elections.


Essentially what Silver has done is create the two views in which we perceive these primary contests.


There are many groups out there that have been using the “polls-only” approach in covering the 2016 primaries. These are the same groups that believe whole heartedly that Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee and that Bernie Sanders is a legitimate threat to Hillary Clinton.


Then there are those – us included – that think a “polls-only” approach in covering the 2016 primaries is a shortened view of a much longer race. We are the people that feel Establishment candidates – like Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton – will eventually win their respective nominations and to see that view, you have to put more credibility into the “polls-plus” model.


During these debates you’re starting to see the two sides – the Establishment candidates and political outsiders – present their respective cases. These primaries are still yet to be written and the few debates that we have left could determine who actually comes out on top. If there is a year the Establishment doesn’t get their way and the “polls-only” analysis of politics wins out, it would be this year. But for us, the process is still being played out. It’s a long election cycle and these debates will start to show that.



You can watch the fourth Democratic primary debate at 9 PM Eastern right here.   



(Photo Credit: CNN)


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