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Updated rankings for the 2020 Democrats

Updated rankings for the 2020 Democrats after the 6th and final debate for the year. This time only seven candidates made the cut which makes things easier to talk about, but whether many people are paying attention this close to Christmas/just after Donald Trump's impeachment remains to be seen.

Joe Biden was a big winner tonight, there were no gaffes, his points about foreign and domestic policy were sharp and he even got some laughs and not from corny dad jokes. He pushed back against Trump's attacks on his family but also made the case that bipartisanship is still a thing, and governing for only half the country would mean the end of the country. This is perhaps the moment that a lot of potential endorsers/backers were looking for, when he brushed away the lingering concerns about his age and mental fitness; Biden recently snagged the endorsement of former Secretary of State John Kerry, and others may follow suit. Warren and Sanders also had pretty good nights, although both are struggling to sell their expensive and disruptive healthcare plans which really are their achilles' policy.

The big loser was Pete Buttigieg who escaped mostly unscathed from the previous debate, but this time was attacked as all frontrunners eventually are. His recent closed-door donor event at a posh vineyard made “wine cave” the phrase of the evening, and while he attempted to pivot away from that it's telling that he's liked by millionaires and can't seem to gain any support from black voters, and there's more African Americans than millionaires in early primary states like South Carolina and Nevada. One of those tilting most heavily at Buttigieg was Amy Klobuchar who should win a medal for “most improved debater”. She'll likely raise some good money off this but will be interesting to see if another strong night keeps her moving up in the polls. Yang got in some decent points and does well selling his unique policies, but also seemed to get a bit lost as the evening went on. Tom Steyer was also on stage he really bought himself that podium with his own money, but despite all that cash he can't pay people to pay attention to him, so I won't. However I will mention that another even richer, even high profile billionaire is now in the race, former New York City mayor and former Republican Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg had been teasing a run for a while before jumping in, and while still the longest of shots, while Biden was looking wobbly there was at least an argument for an electable centrist in the race; not a very strong argument in my view, but an argument nonetheless. However Bloomberg has generated little enthusiasm amongst the Democratic base who are not spoiled for choice when it comes to the elderly and the wealthy and since most have realised Biden isn't going to fall over any time soon the arguments for Bloomberg are close to nil.

Of the recent dropouts the only one worth discussing is Kamala Harris. As everyone knows her campaign was all downhill after a big launch, and the rot spread from the inside as the core group around the candidate were constantly infighting and couldn't agree on a direction or ideological lane. Harris started off trying to run as a law-and-order moderate, but then threw all that away and rushed to the far left, in the process, sacrificing the one thing she had going for her, and ended up looking like she had no credibility as well as no idea. Harris clearly got high on the whiff of destiny she smelled emanating from her every pore, but while she saw herself as the female Barack Obama, the problem was nobody else did. People have talked about her as a potential vice presidential pick, but while Harris does tick certain demographic boxes, that's really as she is, a bunch of demographic boxes with little weight. VP candidates are chosen to balance the ticket in various ways, usually in terms of age, experience and geographic importance, and nowadays gender and race as well. The problem is Harris brings nothing in terms of strength out on the hustings as the more voters saw of her the less they liked her, and California is already a Democratic lock so she couldn't make the argument she could help flip swing states. Plus her experience is still pretty thin compared to others, so while Harris is an effective senator I don't think we'll be hearing about her as a national figure again.

The top three, Biden still in the lead, but lately it's Sanders who is starting to tick upward while Warren is drifting downward.

Joe Biden
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren

The mid-tier candidates, Buttigieg is slipping, Yang is steady and Klobuchar will likely get a boost after a very strong debate.

Pete Buttigieg
Amy Klobuchar
Andrew Yang

The billionaire tier, proving that while money can't buy love it can buy a certain amount of support through advertising.

Michael Bloomberg
Tom Steyer

The bottom tier. Some of these have the resources to stay in the race and may make it to Iowa and perhaps beyond, but even if the field isn't narrowing that fast, the number of candidates who have a realistic shot at becoming the nominee is.

Michael Bennett
Corey Booker
Julian Castro
John Delaney
Tulsi Gabbard
Deval Patrick
Marianne Williamson