What did we learn from the Detroit debates? Our 4 takeaways

Biden remains on top and that's unlikely to change for now.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's poll numbers make him the clear front-runner for the nomination and he's the presumptive favorite to win Michigan as well. But on Wednesday night — just as happened a month ago in the debates in Miami — he was continually on the defensive as he got hit with questions over his support of a 1994 crime bill that resulted in mass incarcerations, his support of the Iraq War, his commitment to women in the workplace and more. Biden fended these off and, especially early on, looked focused and ready, but it's clear his adversaries see him — and his record dating back to the 1970s as a U.S. senator from Delaware — as vulnerable. He also made some stumbles toward the end, cutting short some of his own answers and flubbing a text address for his campaign.

So far it hasn't hurt him — and the Detroit debates are unlikely to do so, especially as his name recognition is high and he has plenty of goodwill built up during his eight years working for President Barack Obama. But if the attacks keep up, he could see an erosion in his position. And don't expect the attacks on his record to slow.

Said Lansing Democratic consultant TJ Bucholz: Biden "is the victim of a changing party and a changing electorate around him ... so many issues have evolved (over the years)."


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