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Updated 8:16 PM |

Live Coverage Of The First Democratic Debate

Filed under 2016 Election

Micah Cohen 11:53 PM Good night! Good morning!

That does it for us tonight, folks. Thanks for following along. If you missed the debate and are just waking up from a restful, apolitical slumber, start at the bottom of this live blog to get a sense for what happened in real time. If you don’t want to do that, here are a few highlights:

And here’s who was being Googled over the debate’s two-plus hours:

Harry Enten 11:18 PM My Quick Post-Debate Thoughts

Did anything change because of tonight? It’s difficult to say: One of the most important factors affecting public opinion after past debates has been the media’s reaction. We’ll be watching how that plays out over the next several days.

So far, the media consensus seems to be that there weren’t any “game changers” tonight. This is perhaps summed up best by this exchange on Twitter:

Bernie Sanders is likely to continue to appeal to a sizable minority of the Democratic base, particularly white liberals. Nothing happened tonight that will change that. The flip is probably also true: I’m not sure Sanders did or said anything to push his support much higher.

Perhaps more importantly, Hillary Clinton, who seemed to have stemmed the bleeding before the debate, is getting good reviews. In other words, tonight’s debate is unlikely to cause Clinton any media headaches.

The one loser from tonight’s debate? It might be Joe Biden, who wasn’t in the debate. Nothing happened on stage that would obviously coax Biden into the ring.

These are just first reactions, but so far the mainstream media does not see the race changing much after this debate. And that seems about right to me too.

Carl Bialik 11:16 PM

“We cannot afford for a Republican to succeed President Obama as president of the United States,” Clinton said. And she mentioned Republicans a lot in this debate — more than all the other candidates combined. She mentioned them 15 of 27 times they came up by name: “Republican” or “Republicans.” (We’re not counting Chafee’s references to his prior membership in the Republican Party.) One of many ways Clinton projected the confidence of a front-runner in the debate was by using it to start making her general-election case — by focusing on the other major party as much as she focused on her opponents for the Democratic nomination.

How often the candidates mentioned Republicans
Nate Silver 11:11 PM

Thanks to the demise of Intrade, betting markets are less robust this year than they were four years ago. But the betting market PredictIt has Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic nomination up by about 3 percentage points after the debate tonight, while Sanders’s number is unchanged. Clinton’s gains come from Joe Biden, who the market now regards as less likely to run. All of this sounds fairly reasonable — I’ll have more to say a bit later tonight.

Leah Libresco 11:09 PM

Clinton scandals were the subject of as many questions as immigration policy. But, as Planned Parenthood announced today that it will cease taking payments for fetal tissue donations, not a single question about abortion was asked.

What was covered in tonight's debate
10:59 PM

Farai Chideya 10:59 PM

Although black and white marijuana use is comparable, black users are four times more likely to be arrested. FiveThirtyEight dug into the 11 million people buying marijuana once a month. Sanders said he’d probably support legalization or decriminalization; Clinton is in favor of implementing medical marijuana only. Would be interesting for the candidates to take a criminal justice policy look at marijuana policy.

Ben Casselman 10:57 PM Family Leave Isn’t Just About Moms

My colleague Andrew Flowers is out, appropriately enough, on paternity leave, so I’ll take up his mantle on one of his favorite issues, paid family leave. Bernie Sanders is right that the U.S. is an outlier in its failure to require that new parents get paid time off.

Parental leave is often painted as a women’s issue. But economists would caution not to forget fathers. That isn’t just because dads deserve the chance to spend time with their new sons and daughters; it’s also key to helping women succeed in the workforce.

That may seem counterintuitive. But the risk is that if countries require paid leave for moms but not dads, companies will be reluctant to hire or promote women; after all, it costs money to have employees out on leave. Allowing — or even, as Catherine Rampell wrote in The New York Times a few years back, requiring — men to take the same leave as women could help ensure a level playing field.

10:51 PM

Harry Enten 10:49 PM Marijuana Gets A High-Five From Democrats

Perhaps it’s not surprising, but recreational marijuana legalization is supported by the majority of Democrats. According to an April 2015 CBS News poll, 60 percent believe marijuana use should be legal. Even a majority of all Americans (53 percent) are now in favor of it. With regards to medical marijuana, 84 percent of all Americans are for it.

Nate Silver 10:47 PM

Since you brought that insider/outsider poll up, Harry, it’s also worth noting one other interesting thing about it. It found that in March, just 36 percent of Republicans wanted an outsider — but that number grew to 65 percent by September. So we may be confusing cause and effect. If Republicans became attracted to Trump and Carson, for whatever reason, they may then go ahead and tell voters that they want an outsider. Likewise, when Democrats say they prefer an insider, that may just mean they like Hillary Clinton.

Farai Chideya 10:42 PM

Several of the GOP candidates have said during their debates and in public statements that some climate change may be caused by humans, but they oppose possible remedies that harm the economy. Among the Democrats, O’Malley aims for a 100 percent renewable energy grid by 2050. Clinton pledged to install 500 million solar panels as president.

Harry Enten 10:41 PM

No. According to a September Pew Research Center poll, 65 percent of Republicans wanted a candidate with new ideas and a different approach versus experience and a proven record. Only 42 percent of Democrats felt the same way.

Micah Cohen 10:40 PM

We’ve heard a lot about Republican voters hankering for an outsider; do Democrats want one too?

Leah Libresco 10:40 PM

Jim Webb is right that he’s being left out. Sanders and Clinton get three questions for every two the moderators direct at Chafee and Webb.

How many questions has each candidate been asked?
10:39 PM

Ben Casselman 10:35 PM A Tired Immigration Debate

We don’t usually blog about the commercial breaks (we have to refill our Diet Cokes sometime, after all), but the anti-immigration ad that just aired provides a good opportunity to make a point I’d hoped to make during the earlier immigration discussion: Just like in the Republican debates, this discussion has focused, at least implicitly, on familiar (some might say tired) issues of low-skilled immigration from Mexico.

But as I wrote last year (and as Pew noted in a report last month), immigration has changed far more than the public conversation around it. The U.S. now gets more immigrants each year from Asia than from Latin America. Unauthorized immigration has slowed dramatically. And new immigrants are increasingly well-educated.

One of these days, the debate will catch up to the reality.

Carl Bialik 10:35 PM

Young voters part with Hillary Clinton on her stance on Edward Snowden, who she said made the wrong choice in blowing the whistle on his employers at the National Security Agency for snooping on Americans. Of millennials polled by the ACLU and Pew Research, a majority back Snowden. Clinton was on firm ground with many Democrats, though, when she defended her vote on the Patriot Act. A narrow plurality of Democrats in a May YouGov poll, and a majority of Democrats in a CNN poll that same month, backed extending the act. (The difference shows how sensitive polling results are to question wording.)

10:34 PM

Clinton says she’ll go “beyond Obama” on reducing prescription drug costs, which is interesting because provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership that are friendly to the pharmaceutical industry are among the reasons she says she opposes President Obama’s signature trade deal.

Health care has always been a key issue for Clinton. So far this election season, she’s taken on the high cost of prescription drugs and the “Cadillac” tax in Obamacare.

She has the support of the people on drug costs: Nearly three-quarters of people in the U.S. think drug costs are unreasonably high and blame pharmaceutical companies for the prices, according to recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Cadillac tax is the rare policy issue that Republicans and Democrats agree on, with legislators across the political spectrum calling for its repeal.

Ritchie King 10:30 PM
Marijuana laws by state
David Firestone 10:30 PM

It’s really remarkable how unscathed Clinton has been tonight by the other candidates. She skated right past questions on Benghazi and her private email server, and on one of her most vulnerable issues — her vote to authorize the war in Iraq — she drew only indirect criticism from Sanders and Chafee, who missed a huge opportunity to draw a sharp contrast with her foreign policy. The moderators have tried to get the other candidates to rough her up, but about the best they’ve been able to do is get O’Malley to say that she may be a little too eager to use military force. Sanders supporters are likely to disagree with Clinton’s support for the Patriot Act, but instead of criticizing her directly for that vote, Sanders loosed a familiar broadside at government surveillance and did not link her to it. Clinton’s skills at debating are clearly evident tonight, but she has benefited most greatly from a decorousness by the other candidates that is rarely on display during Republican debates.

Jody Avirgan 10:28 PM Bernie Is Going Where The Bernie Fans Are

“I go around the country and talk to all sorts of people” Sanders said. He’s certainly been spending time in the primary states of Iowa and the Vermont-adjoining New Hampshire, but many of the iconic Sanders crowds have actually been in large, liberal bastions — places like Austin, Texas; Los Angeles; and Portland (both of ‘em!). This is not just because that’s where the Sanders fans already are — it’s a buzz-building strategy. And with Sanders raising much of his money online, geography may matter less to him in these early stages. “The news of large crowds manages to make its way to people, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Sanders adviser Tad Devine told Politico. “It’s demonstrating that the message Bernie is delivering is connecting with a large audience.” And as Politico points out, that’s a strategy that Obama also employed as he was building momentum in 2007.

Nate Silver 10:26 PM

Yes, it’s a crude measure of candidate quality. But watching Lincoln Chafee struggle tonight — a man who has been elected both governor and senator in Rhode Island — is a reminder that it’s much easier to be elected in a little state than a big one.

In fact, the average Democrat on stage tonight is from a state with just 12 electoral votes. (That average will fall to 11 if Joe Biden enters the race later.) By contrast, the average Republican this year hails from states worth 19 or 21 electoral votes on average, depending on whether you count Carly Fiorina as being from Virginia (where she currently makes her residence) or California (where she ran for senate in 2010).

Ritchie King 10:25 PM Clinton's Got Plans

David Leonhardt asks on Twitter:

Not sure if it’s considered an effective move or not, but Clinton is the only candidate who has used the word “plan” in tonight’s debate:

  • “I have a five-point economic plan because this inequality challenge we face … it hasn’t been this bad since the 1920s.”
  • “The plan that I put forward would empower regulators to break up big banks if we thought they posed a risk.”
  • “My plan would have the potential of actually sending the executives to jail.”
  • “But I know if we don’t come in with a very tough and comprehensive approach like the plan I’m recommending, we’re going to be behind instead of ahead in the next crisis to be.”
  • “Well, let me address college affordability because I have a plan that I think will really zero in on what the problems are.”
  • “My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university twice free.”
Ben Casselman 10:24 PM Immigration Is Rare Point Of Disagreement For Sanders, O’Malley

Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley often seem to be competing over the same bloc of liberal voters (with Sanders seemingly getting the decisive upper hand). But one place they genuinely differ is immigration.

O’Malley has laid out a detailed immigration plan that would offer legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, reduce deportation and detentions, and expand access to health insurance benefits that are now denied to many immigrants.

Sanders has likewise called for immigration reform and has endorsed President Obama’s “deferred action” policies that provide legal status to immigrants who entered the country illegally as children. But he has been far more cautious than O’Malley about promoting policies that might encourage more immigration. In 2007, he helped kill a bipartisan immigration bill that he worried would drive down wages for low-wage American workers. In July, he told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that “open-borders” proposals were a Wall Street attempt to suppress wages.

Sanders stresses that he is not anti-immigration and, even more emphatically, not anti-immigrant. The immigration page on his Web site argues that the free-trade policies he opposes have hurt workers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Still, Sanders has thus far struggled to win much support among Latinos. (O’Malley, despite his more full-throated support for immigration, hasn’t seen much support among Latinos either.)

Farai Chideya 10:22 PM

Job creation, health care and climate change are issues that Democratic voters rank higher than Republicans, according to a May Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The debate obviously still isn’t over, but health care and climate change haven’t gotten much time in the debate.

Anna Maria Barry-Jester 10:22 PM 31.2 Percent Of Non-Citizen Immigrants Are Uninsured

Candidates are talking about undocumented immigrants and health care right now. The undocumented don’t qualify for Medicaid (except in a few states like California, where DREAMers qualify), and aren’t allowed to buy insurance on the health insurance exchanges that were created by Obamacare. Of the 33 million people without insurance in 2014, 7 million were non-citizen immigrants (the majority of them undocumented). It’s one of the most uninsured groups in the country.

Ben Casselman 10:21 PM A College Degree Is Rapidly Becoming The Price Of Entry In the Job Market

Bernie Sanders says that a college degree has become what a high-school diploma was in the middle of the 20th century. He isn’t far off. In the 1970s, about a third of American adults (ages 25-64) had less than a high school diploma; another third had a diploma and no more; and the remainder had at least a few college credits. Only about 6 percent had a bachelor’s degree or more. (All data is from the Current Population Survey, via IPUMS.)

Today, just 10 percent of Americans have less than a diploma, and a third have a bachelor’s degree. Well over half of American adults have at least a few college credits. And although some question the value of a college degree, it still carries clear advantages in the labor force. Americans 25 and up with a bachelor’s degree have an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent, versus 7.9 percent for those with less than a high school diploma.


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