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Updated rankings for the 2020 Democratic candidates

Biggest takeaway from the second round of debates was Kamela Harris delivering a weak performance. She benefited first time around from being a low-profile candidate whose campaign thus far hadn't made much of an impact and who wasn't a well-known figure outside of California. However this time she fumbled under criticism from all sides and is, ironically considering her attacks on Biden in the first debate, having to defend her "problematic" record and not doing a very good job of it. Biden did far better, still some wobbles and minor gaffes that can mostly be put down to Joe being Joe, but overall he was punchy, well-informed and pretty sharp in both his attacks and on defence. Solid performances for the most part from Gabbard and Yang but one feels they're still fringe candidates, and as Bernie Sanders can tell you, it's tough being an outsider.

Speaking of Bernie, he did well in the previous night, but, it has to be admitted, Elizabeth Warren represents most of his policy positions while being both more detail-oriented as well as more disciplined about it. (There's also Bernie's toxic and abusive relationship with the Democratic Party to consider but that's a discussion for another time.) Warren makes the case for increasing taxation on the rich to pay for her policies, whereas one still gets the sense that for Sanders soaking the top 1% is more a class resentment/populist statement of intent rather than part of a comprehensive economic restructuring. The biggest loser from night one in my view is Mayor Pete who I'm demoting a league. He seems to be struggling to justify his existence on the stage as his two pitches: electability in a swing state and progressive social policies, are amply represented in other, more substantive candidates. Julian Castro likewise drops down a bracket as he has a lot of far left talking points but little else, as his numbers falling off after a good performance a month ago indicate.

Serious candidates with a potential to be the nominee:

Joe Biden
Corey Booker
Kamela Harris
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren

The second tier, still have some profile and/or have had standout moments in debates, but probably should be thought of more in terms of veepstakes or perhaps cabinet positions.

Pete Buttigeg
Julian Castro
Tulsi Gabbard
Beto O'Rourke
Andrew Yang

The bottom tier, some also had their moments in debates, but if you're polling at less than the margin of error nationally it will take more than a few zingers and applause lines to make it through to the primaries.

Michael Bennett
Bill de Blasio
Steve Bullock
John Delaney
Kirsten Gellibrand
Mike Gravel
John Hickenlooper
Jay Inslee
Amy Klobuchar
Wayne Messam
Seth Moulton
Tim Ryan
Joe Sestak
Marianne Williamson

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