Debate Update: October 2019 Democratic Debate Survey Responses

November, 04 2019

Immediately following each presidential debate, we will survey the 30 participants in our Jewish Political Voices Project to get their reaction to the candidates’ performances and the debate’s impact on the campaign. We received responses from 25 of our voters following the most recent debate on October 15. Here are a few take-aways:

1) Of the 17 Democrats who responded, two said they no longer have a top-choice candidate and are now interested in several candidates or are “undecided.” One had previously chosen Senator Elizabeth Warren as his top choice and the other had favored Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Rabbi Daniel Levin of Florida, described his move away from Warren following the debate:

I think Elizabeth Warren, while exciting to the base on the left, will likely alienate moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans who switched from Obama to Trump in the last election. Her policies and her affect punctuate the sense of elitism and lack of connection to the core issues of centrist Americans. 

2) Three of the four Republicans who responded to the survey and are not Trump supporters said they came away with new interest in some Democratic candidates. Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar peaked two people’s interest while former Vice President Joe Biden lost the interest of one voter.

Below is sampling of post-debate reactions from our participants.


Robert Schwebel (D-AZ): I thought moderates and progressives represented themselves well, except perhaps Biden, who seems to lose coherence when he talks at length.

Stephanie Wurdarski (D-PA): I am tired of the media narrative about this being a three-person race and think that a brief history lesson would demonstrate otherwise, e.g. Obama, Kerry and Clinton were all significantly down at this time in the race.

Alan Zimmerman (D-VA): Democrats tend to do best when they think and, if elected, act, big and bold (FDR, JFK, LBJ, Obama), and tend to falter when they try to play small ball (Carter, Dukakis, Mondale, Kerry).

Nancy Santanello (D-PA): I am concerned about how many men do not like Warren because she comes off as aggressive to them. I am not sure how to overcome this issue, since I do not feel the same. However, I keep hearing this from men in particular.

Rabbi Felipe Goodman (D-NV): Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have great ideas, but how on earth will they implement them without the country going into financial chaos?

Lavea Brachman (D-OH): We need a middle-of-the-road candidate to take on Donald Trump.

Hannah Rosenthal (D-WI): Not enough heard from second-tier candidates. I don’t think the pundits give Booker enough credit.

Rabbi Dan Levin (D-FL): I came away from the debate perhaps even more concerned about the ability of a Democratic nominee to capture the White House. The hard tack to the left by so many of the candidates may play well with the base, but I believe runs the risk of alienating moderate voters.

Miriam Laing (D-FL): While I hope to have one of my top three become the Democratic candidate, I would vote for a broken table if it had a chance to get Trump out of the White House.


Lou Weiss (R-PA): I don’t see any of these guys beating Trump. No one broke through the miasma of crazy giveaways and anti-Trump jeremiads. We know they hate Trump.

Sander Eizen (R-MI): I would rather a non-Trump Republican than just about every single person on the stage.  Buttigieg, Yang, and Klobuchar all did a great job at attacking the leftness of Sanders and Warren in a way that will resonate well with Moderate Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Andrew Smith (R-OH): Biden is probably the most qualified and least radical, but his mental acuity has clearly diminished. On policy Klobuchar might be my best fit. I remain curious about Mayor Pete.

Mark Goldhaber (R-NC): If there was a Democrat I might consider, it might be Klobuchar.

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