Detroit presidential debate is ‘do or die’ for low-tier Democrats

A poor performance at the second Democratic presidential debate in Detroit could spell doom for candidates at the back of the crowded primary field.

Abby Clark, chief strategist for Vanguard Public Affairs, said the Detroit debate is a “do or die” situation for Democrats who have yet to make an impact on the national stage. There’s a historically large field of candidates running but the race is largely framed around five candidates -- former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“For those front five, as long as they don’t have any epic failures, they all have enough momentum and money in the bank that they’re going to be with us for a long while,” Clark aid. “Job number one is don’t screw this up, and after that, any other good moments they have are gravy."

Clark said Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro are still in the race but need something to re-energize their campaign.

For everyone else, “if they don’t have a phenomenal night, they do need to look for the exit,” Clark said.​

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