Last night marked the end of another round of Democratic debates, again a wearisome two-night endeavor necessitated by the long list of candidates.

On both nights, unfortunately, the underdogs seemed to spend much of their time attacking the frontrunners, though the frontrunners didn’t distinguish themselves enough to make that strategy seem necessary.

The overall result is that no one really “won” the debates, and the Democrats seem less likely than ever to produce a candidate who can beat President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

In the first round on Tuesday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both liberals with some overlapping ideals, defended themselves against the more moderate and lesser-known contenders.

Those jabs meant Sens. Warren and Sanders spent almost no time attacking each other. They came away leading the pack, even if neither of the two had a decisive edge of the other. Overall the discussion was widely considered to be quite substantive, with in-depth policy discussions. Many people considered South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttegieg the runner-up.

Wednesday’s debate was similar in that former Vice President Joe Biden, whose views are relatively centrist, warded off attacks on his long voting record and time in the Obama administration from Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, as well as former housing secretary Julian Castro. Biden at times had a stronger performance against Sen. Harris than he did in June, but by the end he was struggling and failed to prove himself as the clear leader.

With such a crowded ballot, it should be concerning to Democrats that their top-polling candidate, Biden, is flailing a bit at this point in the game. They’re going to need someone to take the lead if they have any hope of keeping President Trump from a second term.

Recommended for you