THE BLOG
10/14/2015 08:44 am ET Updated Oct 14, 2016

Yes, Bernie Sanders Defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Debate. Here's Why

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Yes, Senator Bernie Sanders clearly won the Democratic debate for a variety of reasons. Clinton was able to convey a hatred of the NRA, but forgot that guns are also used in never-ending wars and Bernie Sanders shined with his call for ending American quagmires. Chafee made a point of stating he wasn't associated with scandals (guess who he was talking about) and while Clinton would not have been so gracious, Bernie Sanders said, "Enough of the emails!" O'Malley seemed to be a more liberal Hillary Clinton and Jim Webb performed well on foreign policy.

For those who feel the former Secretary of State won the debate, remember that Clinton received an early Christmas present from Bernie Sanders. She had no need to explain why Russian-linked hackers tried to access her emails, or why the FBI probe has now expanded to a second tech firm. If Hillary Clinton were catching up to Sanders in the polls, and Sanders had a private server and emails investigated by five intelligence agencies, it's doubtful she wouldn't find some way to gain votes by addressing the scandal. The proof is that Clinton wasted no time differentiating herself from Sanders on gun violence, so just imagine if he had a scandal of similar proportions to the email issue.

Overall, only one candidate conveyed a message that didn't need to be "polished," which apparently is the new word for certain pundits who feel Clinton won. Only one candidate set the tone for the evening. Only one candidate is the reason Hillary Clinton was overwhelmed with joy when her main rival refused to talk about the FBI, CIA, and others investigating emails.

For the record, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune also felt Bernie Sanders defeated Clinton and other challengers to win the debate.

Bernie Sanders was the clear winner because ISIS can't control the sun and climate change is indeed our biggest threat at the moment. On wealth inequality, it's difficult for Hillary Clinton to overtake Bernie Sanders on this topic, especially since his championing of the cause is directly tied to being a Democratic-Socialist. In terms of the direction of the debate, it's clear that Bernie Sanders set the stage for a progressive discussion.

True, mass shootings are a horrendous epidemic, but Clinton's Iraq War vote led to unending shooting in the Middle East, and Sanders was far better on foreign policy. Sanders mentioned he earned a D- minus voting record from the NRA, and even as Clinton pontificated and accused Sanders of not being tough enough on guns, it seemed that she and others were simply utilizing the tragedies for votes. Also, we're having an increase of these shootings under a Democratic president, so Congress must act on the issue.

On topics directly related to presidential authority, Sanders had the edge, from ending continual involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts to curbing the "illegal behavior of Wall Street."

However, before analyzing the responses from Sanders, Clinton, and others, let's look at some informal data. Something called the "internet" loved Bernie Sanders after the debate, and although the following surveys were composed of thousands of people (who will most likely be voting in 2016), many skeptics might overlook the data showing Sanders clearly won. They'll say that the over 100,000 people who took the CNN or Time surveys weren't asked the right questions, or that FiveThirtyEight didn't ordain the results with polling holy water.

Nonetheless, human beings have spoken and America should take notice. The CNN Facebook Poll late Tuesday evening at one point showed 80% of voters picking Bernie Sanders to be the winner. In typical American media fashion, most people on the CNN Facebook page thought Sanders had won, even as glowing reviews from several CNN writers had Clinton winning. In addition to CNN, online polls throughout the country had the man who saved Andrea Mitchell ahead on all score cards.

Time also had a Democratic debate poll late Tuesday evening. From a survey of 106,788 at the moment I voted, 64% of respondents felt Bernie Sanders had won the Democratic debate. At the MSNBC poll, 84% felt Bernie Sanders was victorious at the time I cast my vote. Over at Slate.com, 75% of respondents felt Bernie won the debate.

Of course, these informal polls aren't as scientific as the polling data showing Bernie Sanders at 0.9% support on June 4, 2014, to now 24.4% within the Democratic Party on October 12, 2015. Only statistics rooted in solid analytical principles can explain why Reuters made the following claim last week:

Clinton's support among Democratic voters fell 10 points within less than a week.

From October 4 to October 9, Clinton saw her support tumble from 51 percent of Democratic support to just 41 percent.

Therefore, let's continue with the surveys of tens of thousands of voters who simply watched the debate and had their own opinion. Keep in mind, these informal polls might not represent the views of the overall public. They might not be as accurate as the data illustrating Hillary Clinton dropped 10 points in a week, or Sanders surging from less than 1% to surpass Clinton in a recent poll by Google Consumer Surveys for IJ.com.

At the time I voted at Daily Kos, 7,825 people agreed with me, and 59% of voters viewed Bernie Sanders to be the winner. The Sacramento Bee showed that 81% of voters felt Sanders won. Colorado's 9News had a poll illustrating Bernie Sanders won the contest, with over eight thousand people voting for the Vermont Senator. According to over seven thousand people who voted at TheStreet.com, 78% felt that Bernie Sanders won. Almost 80% of respondents at Fox5 San Diego had Bernie Sanders winning the clash of Democrats. Even before the debate, NJ.com had Sanders winning at 70%, with "I don't know" beating O'Malley and Chafee.

On the issue of racial justice, Bernie Sanders was the only candidate to speak with a clear and moral tone:

COOPER: ...Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter? Let's put that question to Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Black lives matter.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: And the reason -- the reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she's going to end up dead in jail, or their kids...

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: ...are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system...

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: ...In which we have more people in jail than China. And, I intended to tackle that issue. To make sure that our people have education and jobs rather than jail cells.

(APPLAUSE)

Nobody came close to Sanders on the topic that will decide the Democratic nomination.

Also, nobody came close to Bernie Sanders on the issues of wealth inequality, climate change, perpetual-wars, and the impact of these challenges upon our nation. Political wonks who believe Clinton stole the show most likely never predicted Sanders to pose such a serious challenge at this point, therefore being "polished" or prepared is viewed as advantages for Clinton. In reality, it was obvious that nobody was going to back down, and the winner of the debate had to do more than simply keep their cool or answer tough questions.

The winner had to move the issues and set the tone for the evening, which is what Bernie Sanders did on Tuesday. If you disagree with my assessment, or if you feel this is merely hyperbole, then imagine the Democratic debate without Vermont's Senator. As stated by the Chicago Tribune's Editorial, "Sanders is the reason Democrats have a serious primary race." Because of his ability to lead on the biggest issues, from the environment to wars in the Middle East, Bernie Sanders is on his way to the Democratic nomination and the first debate was a major stepping-stone. He won the debate, and he'll win the nomination because only one candidate is setting the agenda for ideas and discussion within the Democratic Party.

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