As discussed yesterday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar talked her way into some positive feedback from debate viewers. The other candidate, however, that boosted his prospects even beyond Klobuchar was none other than businessman and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
According to Morning Consult, Yang, Klobuchar, and Steyer enjoyed the most positive feedback from debate viewers, increasing their favorability ratings. The same poll also found that Biden and Warren dipped slightly, while the rest, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, remained largely unchanged.
As Newsweek reports, though, this is big news for Yang and will inevitably give him a boost in attempting to qualify for the debate in January and beyond:
Andrew Yang has slightly overtaken Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Democratic primary net favorability rankings following the sixth debate between party candidates, a new poll has found.
The entrepreneur’s net favorability score—the share of potential Democratic primary voters who view him positively minus those with unfavorable views—jumped seven points after the Los Angeles debate, according to Morning Consult.
As a result of the post-debate boost, Yang now has a net favorability score of 34 percent, putting him in fourth place and a point ahead of Pete Buttigieg on 33 percent.
Prior to the debate, Morning Consult polling between December 9 and 15 found Buttigieg three points ahead of Yang on favorability, with a 30 percent net positive rating.
These numbers are great for Yang, and he did come across as very approachable and thoughtful in his answers and provided a commanding interpretation of the future problems posed to the economy by robotics and artificial intelligence. Those answers are intriguing for a lot of reasons because none of Yang’s opponents on stage have been able to frame it that way or sound convincing when they do.
Being favorably viewed by debate watchers and primary voters is positive, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into support on caucus or primary day. Yang is still stuck in seventh place nationally and eighth place in Iowa.
Another part of the poll, which Newsweek didn’t touch on in their reporting, was the question put to poll respondents of which candidate actually won the debate. The answer might surprise you, per Politico:
According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult and POLITICO, a plurality of viewers — 23 percent — found that Biden performed the best at the Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate, held in Los Angeles. Sen. Bernie Sanders came in second at 16 percent. This is the first time viewers chose Biden as the best performer since the first primary debate in June.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, a top contender in the race for the Democratic nomination, trailed behind her colleagues, with only 9 percent saying she performed the best. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (10 percent), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (11 percent) and Andrew Yang (12 percent) all received higher percentages. Only 4 percent of respondents put billionaire Tom Steyer as the top-performing debater.
The ironic point here is that as debates go, this debate left Biden with a lower amount of speaking time than prior events. In essence, the less Biden speaks, the more viewers like him and the more likely he is to “win” a debate simply with his presence.
The other irony is that Yang spoke the least, yet received the largest boost in favorability.
Bernie Sanders also had good results from the polling data with viewers rating him positively, edging slightly above Biden when the results for which candidate had a “good” or “excellent” debate were combined.
The smaller number of candidates on stage produced some very different reactions from viewers when compared to past debates. Over the course of three hours, Joe Biden was left basically untouched, only interjecting into some arguments where he strategically wanted to, such as questioning the mechanics of Medicare For All, but remained mostly in the “speak when spoken too” column.
Yang went a long way with his debate performance last week, and the numbers bear out his efforts. Will it be enough to improve some of his poll numbers? It’s possible he might see a little bump over the next few weeks which could boost him into contention for a debate slot on Jan. 14.
At the moment, according to analysis from FiveThirtyEight, Yang is on the outside looking in and needs several qualifying polls between now and the deadline in early January to make the debate stage in Iowa.