CNN’s Democratic debate Sunday night touched on a number of issues, including US trade policies, the environment, GOP opponents, gun control, God, and Wall Street.
And with the debate taking place in Flint, Mich., both former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders incorporated the city’s water crisis into their respective "for the people" platforms.
“I would love to run against Donald Trump.”
Donald Trump said Saturday of Mrs. Clinton, “I am the one person that she does not want to run against.” But polling data suggests that both Clinton and Sanders would do well against Donald come November.
In a CNN poll last month, Clinton tops Trump 52 percent to 44 percent in the general election. And in hypothetical races against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the same CNN poll predicts Clinton losing both races, with Mr. Rubio beating Clinton 50 percent to 47 percent and Mr. Cruz beating Clinton 49 percent to 48 percent.
Clinton’s projected eight-point lead over Trump excites Democrats. After all, President Obama beat Republican nominee Mitt Romney by half of that in 2012. And in 2008, Obama beat Republican nominee and Arizona Sen. John McCain by seven points: a victory seen as decisive.
But Sen. Sanders' projected lead over Trump makes Clinton’s contest look like a tight race.
Mr. Sanders said Sunday he would “love” to run against Trump, as he should: According to the same CNN poll, Sanders beats Trump in the popular election by 12 points. And several polls agree that Sanders would also beat Rubio and Cruz. The Vermont senator and self-proclaimed Democratic socialist tops Trump, Rubio and Cruz at 55 percent, 53 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
“The electability issue is just one more way the Democratic establishment is trying to trick us into admitting defeat before the primary has even happened,” Jamie Peck, a Sanders’ supporter, writes for Death and Taxes. “That’s right: As counterintuitive as it seems to everyone who’s been brainwashed by the party line, come November, Sanders stands a much better chance against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.”
“I am a praying person.”
Somewhat surprisingly, religion was a major topic discussed last night.
After being asked "To whom and for whom do you pray?," Clinton responded: “I am a praying person. And if I hadn’t been during the time I was in the White House, I would have become one. Because it’s very hard to imagine living under that kind of pressure without being able to fall back on prayer and on my faith.”
And when Sanders was asked about keeping his Judaism “in the background,” he recalled learning about his father’s family as a child, and their horrible deaths in the Holocaust. “I am very proud of being Jewish and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being,” he replied.
“Excuse me, I’m talking.”
Sunday saw more interruptions and criticism than past Democratic debates.
While the candidates were discussing their positions on Wall Street, Sanders told the former first lady, “Some of your friends destroyed the economy.”
And when Clinton tried to interrupt the senator, he said “Excuse me, I’m talking!” The audience can be heard gasping after Sanders’ fiery response. Clinton again tried to interrupt Sanders while the candidates were discussing the nation’s automobile industry, to which he replied: “Can I finish? You’ll have your turn.”
But regardless of Sanders’ tough tone Sunday, Democratic voters still like him more than Clinton. A lot more.
Since early December, Clinton’s favorability ratings have only decreased, whereas Sanders’ ratings have increased. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Clinton’s favorability rating at the end of January was 37 percent compared to Sanders’ 51 percent favorability.
RealClear Politics, a public opinion poll aggregator, suggests a Clinton victory in Michigan on Tuesday is still likely, regardless of Sunday night’s debate. In fact, Clinton’s campaign seemed to see a boost in the state. Clinton led Sanders 57 percent to 40 percent before the debate with the margin even bigger on Monday at 66 percent and 29 percent, respectively.