Democratic primary debate No. 3 is upon us, airing Thursday on ABC News — complete with a pivotal “podium order” for the 10 hopefuls who may or may not be ready for prime time. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have the coveted center-stage positions, flanked by Sens. Bernard Sanders and Kamala D. Harris on either side.
The quartet has already earned a nickname of sorts from one observer.
“A liberal sandwich with a moderate filling. This is the first time these top contenders are all on the stage together, and it’s about time we get to see them on the same night rather than staggered on different nights,” writes Nate Ashworth, editor-in-chief of Election Central.
“Biden has got his work cut out for him, or so it would seem. He managed his way through two debates with lackluster performances and a laundry list of attacks from other candidates. None of it seemed to hurt his poll numbers or his base level of support,” Mr. Ashworth continues.
“At this point, if Biden makes it through the September debate and October debate without losing substantial support, what’s left for his opponents to attack? He’s been making campaign gaffes on the trail, but he’s built up a Teflon skin when it comes to voters giving him a pass,” the analyst says.
Indeed, Mr. Biden carries the “highest expectations” for a positive appearance say Democratic primary voters writes Caitlin Oprysko, a Politico analyst.
A new survey from her news organization found that 24% said Mr. Biden will give the “best performance,” followed by Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders.
TEN’S A CROWD
Meanwhile, how many candidates are too many candidates at the Democratic debate?
“Most voters — including a majority of Democratic primary voters — still believe there will be too many candidates on the stage on Thursday,” reports the aforementioned Politico/Morning Consult poll.
It found that 54% of all voters say that the number of White House hopefuls ‘is more than enough.” The survey reveals that 53% of Democratic voters agree with that.
There is some tolerance here, though. A third of Democratic primary voters say the debate stage will have “just the right amount of candidates” — this compared to a quarter of all registered voters.
Things could get worse during the next go-round.
“Voters already unhappy with the size of the debate stage on Thursday are set to be disappointed: Eleven candidates have already qualified for the next debate in October, with several more on the fringes,” the poll analysis said.
“This virtually ensures that there will be either a larger stage or a second night of debates, as the Democratic National Committee has previously said it does not plan to feature more than 10 candidates on the same debate stage.”
THE LEWANDOWSKI EFFECT
This is definitely not a case of “Corey who?”
“A new poll of New Hampshire GOP primary voters gives former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski a 20-point lead in the Republican U.S. Senate primary even before he announces his candidacy,” writes Michael Graham, political editor of InsideSources.com.
It also reflects the emerging view among GOP observers that he would be the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination if and when he enters the race, he says.
“Our core finding is that Corey Lewandowski has a strong base near 30% and is most certainly the front-runner as of today,” notes Vote Adjustments, a political strategy group. “What is surprising is the number of people who, without prompting, know Lewandowski’s name and his strong association with President Trump.”
Mr. Lewandowski is wisely adopting a quiet posture.
“These poll numbers are very humbling. I am grateful for the support of the people of N.H. and further encouraged to enter the Senate race,” he told NHJournal.com, an online source which covers the finer points of Granite State politics.
The news media typically downplays or completely ignores the assorted victories in the Trump administration. Now the press will also skate over Republican victories on the campaign trail — such as a rise in voter support in North Carolina following President Trump’s recent appearance at a rally there — accompanied by Rep. Dan Bishop, who went on to win the seat in a special election following the event.
Get used to the journalistic silence, says Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.
“It was a big win for Republicans, not just in North Carolina 9 but in the Third District as well where our candidate actually outperformed where the president did in 2016. So we had two wins on the board. You’re not going to hear the Democrats talking about it. If we lost, it would be bellwether. When we win, they want to sweep it under the rug,” she tells Fox News.
Fox News remains the most-watched basic cable network of all for the 35th consecutive week according to Nielsen Media Research. As it has for over 17 years straight, Fox News is also the top cable news network, drawing 2.5 million prime-time viewers, compared to 1.4 million for MSNBC and 869,000 for CNN.
As for recent coverage of Hurricane Dorian, Fox News averaged 1.6 million viewers, outpacing The Weather Channel as well as all its cable news rivals. Good long-term news for Fox: the network’s viewership was up 8% compared to the same time last year.
POLL DU JOUR
• 22% of U.S. voters are “very motivated” to watch the Democratic presidential debate on Thursday; 8% of Republicans, 16% of independents and 40% of Democrats agree.
• 28% are “somewhat motivated”; 18% of Republicans, 29% of independents and 37% of Democrats agree.
• 17% are “not very motivated”; 21% of Republicans, 17% of independents and 13% of Democrats agree.
• 29% are “not motivated at all”; 50% of Republicans, 31% of independents and 8% of Democrats agree.
• 4% are undecided; 2% of Republicans, 7% of independents and 2% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,998 registered U.S. voters conducted Sept. 7-8.
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