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Jonathan Bernstein

Warren Has a Big Night in Vegas. Is It Enough?

In the first debate without fringe candidates, everyone came ready to attack Michael Bloomberg. 

Bashing the billionaire.

Bashing the billionaire.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

As we saw in the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire, a quick consensus formed in media coverage of the debate in Nevada. Elizabeth Warren won, and Michael Bloomberg, making his first debate appearance, lost.

Everyone came ready to attack the former three-term New York City mayor, who has rocketed to second or third place in the national polls while spending unprecedented sums in states where the other candidates either haven’t campaigned at all or have only just begun. His inexperience in debating at this level was obvious. Most of the attacks (on stop-and-frisk policing, on reports that he’s said demeaning things about women, about his previous support for and from Republicans, and more) should have been easy to anticipate. Yet he simply did not deliver strong answers. The good news for him is that he’s not competing in any primaries until March 3, so he has plenty of time to recover if bad press from this event blunts his momentum.