With most of 2016's attention on the Republican race, the Democrats finally took center stage. Here are the major takeaways from debate night.
1. Clinton and Sanders contrasts - With Hillary Clinton adapting a more progressive tone and frankly sounding like Elizabeth Warren at times, Sanders is pressed to draw contrasts between their respective platforms.
Their dynamic was even cordial at times as Sanders seemingly threw Clinton a political gift by saying the "American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails...enough of the emails lets talk about the real issues facing America."
In terms of contrasts Clinton positioned herself left of Sanders on gun control. Asked if Sanders was tough enough on gun control she responded "no, not at all."
Clinton claimed her plan on Wall Street "is more comprehensive and its tougher." Sanders said "that's not true," and went on to inform her "Congress does not regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress. Saying 'please do the right thing' is kind of naiive."
Lastly, Sanders emphasized that he is operating without a SuperPac. He is financed by indivdual contributions averaging 30 dollars, not by millionaires, billioniares, and major financial insitutions - an implicit jab at Clinton.
2. Clinton: A Third Obama Term but beyond? When asked to respond how her presidency would be different from a 3rd Obama term, Clinton seemed to embrace opposed to distance herself from the President. She wants to build on Obama's legacy but go further. Tying herself to the President is a risky endeavor, particularly in the general election where the President is not particularly popular with Republicans and independents.
3. Unity against Republican Party - One aspect the candidates did well was to unify and take shots at the Republican Party.
Clinton noted "the economy does better when we have a Democrat in the White House."
Sanders critiqued "The Republicans tell us we can't do anything except give tax breaks to millionaires, cut social security... and that's not what the American people want."
O'Malley concluded that this was a very different debate in the sense that it did not denigrate women, offer racist comments, or condemn people for their religion. He offered this debate was an "honest search for answers that will move our country forward."
Other takeaways- Sanders' position of cracking down on NSA surveillance and defending civil liberties has a lot more common ground with Rand Paul than his democrat colleagues.
O'Malley had a respectable performance, but Webb and Chafee were total non-factors.
Sanders continually referred to the need of a political revolution to bring about change where "millions of people come together and say our government is going to work for all of us not just a handful of billionaires."
This was a re-assuring performance for Clinton supporters whose candidate of choice has been slipping in early state polls. Clinton was well-prepared and touted her extensive experience. That being said, Sanders is in the campaign to win and is not going anywhere.