WASHINGTON -- With South Carolina and Super Tuesday looming, and the potential of a second term for President Donald Trump staring the party in the face, seven Democratic candidates didn't miss an opportunity to attack each other during the debate in Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday night. But will any of it matter?
Once again, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg exercised his financial advantage. During the first two breaks of the CBS debate, the Bloomberg campaign aired television ads in the expensive Los Angeles media market, portraying a very different Bloomberg than the one being attacked onstage. It's a reminder that millions more voters are seeing Bloomberg's ads around the country than watching the debates, which is likely more important to his support in the race.
This was the 10th official Democratic presidential debate. It felt like the 20th. The 2016 GOP presidential primary is a good, recent example of how primaries don't necessarily impede general election victory. But it can't be beneficial for the Democratic Party to have its candidates constantly fighting with each other in public.
After months of reluctance, Sen. Elizabeth Warren went a little further in her criticism of Sen. Bernie Sanders than she did during the Las Vegas debate, saying they share progressive goals but she's better at delivering because she has plans with details. But it's far from clear whether she can regain lost ground, and we can only wonder how the race would have turned out if she had been more explicit in contrasting herself with her Vermont colleague months earlier.
Voters are already voting. Even if a candidate had a breakout moment or a catastrophic collapse, thousands of votes have already been cast. Voters in California (a Super Tuesday state) have been voting since just after Iowa.