"Nothing new to see here; move along."
That was the opinion of a number of people who watched the two-night debate of the lineup of Democratic presidential contenders - including a number of Democrats. And certainly, most Republicans who bothered to watch thought the overall winner was President Donald Trump. Libertarians, meanwhile, are just shaking their heads.
A question about the Wednesday night debate, posted on the Daily Press Facebook page, turned into a free-for-all - but not about which candidate won the day. With a handful of exceptions, most comments had little to do with the debate or the issues discussed therein, but rather posed an opportunity to campaign for Trump, or to discuss how none of the candidates were all that impressive, or to opine that most folks weren't going to waste time with what was sure to be a ho-hum performance.
Among the few commenters who did watch the debate, most agreed that Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg did the best. But Warren's hands-up endorsement for elimination of private health care insurance won't win her any friends among Republicans, nor among the more conservative working-class Democrats. Many average Americans view her as a liberal firebrand, too far to the left for their tastes. And there's that pesky "Cherokee ancestry" thing still dogging her. Buttigieg performed well, most pundits agreed.
Thursday night generated a bit more enthusiasm among Democrats, but anyone who expected the "moderate" Joe Biden to get the nod may have been surprised. The Daily Press will be getting local assessments Monday, but as far as expert observers, Kamala Harris took the crown; she even managed to wrest it away from Bernie Sanders, whose loyal "Bernie or Bust" supporters arguably cost Hillary Clinton any chance of winning the White House in 2016. That's not taking anything away from Trump's base, who continue to stick with him through thick and thin.
Harris, who opined that "America does not want a food fight; they want to know how we are going to put food on the table," also challenged Biden on his past record on desegregation. Biden has worked mightily to rebrand himself, but it won't work for anyone on the far left. Paradoxically, at this point, Biden is the only one who might be palatable to moderate Republicans who would rather not hand Trump another four more years.
But the real nexus of the debates can't emerge until the field is winnowed somewhat. Voters are glazing over as each candidate tries to scramble for the spotlight, with their choruses of "me, too!" when an opponent has an idea that might inspire intrigue. Right now, it's nothing more than fodder for a television audience. Democrats - and Republicans, Libertarians and independents, too - will have to see and hear more before they start moving toward any corners. And if the Democrats have any chance of unseating Trump, they'll have to do that soon.