The 6 hour long fever dream that was the 2nd round of Democratic presidential debates is now over, and frankly, there were some winners, some losers, and some “who the hell are you”s? While data says that debates don’t really move the needle in terms of voters, they certainly move the needle in terms of my completely personal ranking of the candidates, so let’s get to it.
25 – 21. Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton, Joe Sestak, Tom Steyer, and Mike Gravel.
You don’t make the debate, you don’t make the list. Next.
20 – 18. Tim Ryan, Bill de Blasio and Steve Bullock.
Along the same lines, if I forget you are at the debate until they show you on screen, you don’t make the list.
17. Michael Bennet.
I feel bad making fun of a cancer survivor but that guy needs to trim his eyebrows, stat. On the flip side, that’s literally the only thing I can remember about him from the debate, so maybe ride the brow train as far as it will take you? It’s certainly not headed to the oval office.
16. Amy Klobuchar.
I watched the debates with my mother, who happens to be one of the least politically informed humans on the planet. Her reaction to Klobuchar? “She looks mean.” Nailed it, mom.
15. John Delaney.
Admittedly, I found Delaney less annoying in debate 2 than I did in debate 1. But like…you’re a rich old white dude. If that’s what I wanted, there’s better options.
14. Beto O’Rourke.
Beto vs. Ted Cruz? I was all in. Beto in this field? I’m not. I’m sorry, Kyle Bandujo. In the words of Jack Berger, “I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me.”
13. John Hickenlooper.
If I found Delaney less annoying this time, I had the opposite reaction to my favoritely named candidate. Multiple times on Tuesday night, I just wanted this guy to shut up, which means I probably wouldn’t want to listen to him for 4 years.
12. Tulsi Gabbard.
Honestly, I don’t care for Gabbard based on her previous work with an anti-gay group that backed conversion therapy. I just can’t get past it – but she gets points for revealing in Wednesday night’s debate that while Kamala Harris can dish it (at Joe Biden), she can’t take it. Well done.
11. Jay Inslee.
OMG, we get it – you are the governor of Washington and you get shit done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t get you into my top 10.
10. Kirsten Gillibrand.
I actually really really like Gillibrand, which is why she makes my top 10. But I just don’t see how she gets it done.
9. Kamala Harris.
One of my besties is a Kamala-stan and I just don’t.get.it. She speaks and all I can think is “I don’t like you.” Hey, I did say this was completely unscientific. Also, stop yelling at Joe. No one likes a bully.
8. Marianne Williamson.
Honestly, we just need to keep her around for the entertainment value. Although, she actually made some decent points on Tuesday that didn’t sound like she was speaking at a yogi retreat after taking a beta blocker.
7. Andrew Yang.
Listen, this dude has no shot in hell at being president. But as I said before, I’ve heard him speak in person, and he has some interesting, innovative ideas. As I said to someone during the debate, he’s cabinet material – he’d make a great secretary of something who gets shit done. And the no tie stance? Bold. Plus I just like saying #yanggang.
6. Joe Biden.
OMG, this hurts so much. I’ve been so clear about my love for Joe, and it’s an affection I still hold in my heart. But it’s time to retire, my man. It’s become clear from these debates that when we put the past and the future on the stage, it’s time to move to the future. But know that I still love you.
5. Bernie Sanders.
Please just stop with the yelling. I can’t handle all the yelling.
4. Pete Buttigieg.
Is some of the shine coming off the new penny? Sure – as we learn more about Mayor Pete, we learn that he’s not perfect. But what I like is that he’s also pretty upfront about that. I’m still not sold on President Pete, but Vice President Pete would be cool.
3. Julián Castro.
Where the hell did this guy come from?! In my previous two rankings, he didn’t crack the top 15 but here he is chilling at #3. And they say debates don’t change minds. But in both outings, he had clear, thoughtful things to say that made me think. We’ll see if he makes the 3rd debate stage.
2. Elizabeth Warren.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I get why people don’t like her. Hell, I don’t like her as someone I want to hang out with. But given that I’m probably never going to hang out with the President of the United States, I’m in on this:
1. Cory Booker.
I’ve been a Cory-stan for a long time – dating back to his time as Mayor of Newark. Watching Wednesday night, I felt that he was the only one that was able to debate his opponents with respect, and that’s a quality I’m looking for in a President. I’m over the yelling and the screaming and the name calling. In the post-debate coverage, the CNN analysts repeatedly referred to him as “a happy warrior” and I like it. He’s made the stage for the 3rd debate so we’ll see what happens from here.