Who won the second Democratic debate?

Senator Kamala Harris debated race issues and fired a Joe Biden
Senator Kamala Harris debated race issues and fired a Joe Biden Copyright Reuters
By Alex Seitz-Wald with NBC News Politics
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Analysis: Kamala Harris stood out, Joe Biden had a target on his back, and a few of the candidates were barely there.


The gloves came off in the second round of the first Democratic debate on Thursday, leaving some candidates wounded and one taking a victory lap.

Here's who won, who disappeared on stage and who will hope for better luck next time. (In order of stage appearance.)

Author Marrianne Williamson: She was nothing if not herself, which voters may or may not deem to be presidential mettle. But Williamson introduced herself to a large audience who will likely be curious to hear more of her brand of self-help, psychology and spiritualism.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: Long looking for a breakout moment, he didn't get it.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang: Yang's Reddit-friendly love of math and PowerPoint and giving every American $1,000 a month could have made him an unlikely star. But he seemed to shrink under the bright lights of the debate stage. "I'm sorry?" he stammered when he struggled to understand a question.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: The shooting of a black man by a police officer back in South Bend has kept Buttigieg off the campaign trail and highlighted his struggles to make inroads with black voters. He earned cheers for calling Republicans hypocrites for invoking Christianity while cracking down on migrants.

Former Vice President Joe Biden: Had a target on his back, but Biden's uneven responses to the attacks showed why many Democrats aren't betting their life savings on him.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.: If you love Bernie Sanders, you probably loved what you heard Thursday. Sanders played the hits and delivered withering blows on Trump, but did little to expand his audience.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.: Harris breathed new life into her campaign with the moment of the debate when she challenged Biden on his work with segregationists and referenced her own experience being bused to integrate a school as a young girl.

Sen. Kirsten Gillirand, D-N.Y.: A woman senator — Elizabeth Warren — was the star of the first debate on Wednesday. And a woman senator — Harris — was the star of the second round of the debate. Neither of them were Gillibrand.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.: He jabbed at both of the frontrunners, but didn't say much about his own vision or why the already massive field needs him in it.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.: Took a big early swing at Biden by calling on him to pass the torch to a new generation, but his canned one-liners and rehearsed zingers grew tiresome by the end.

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