There have been eight Democratic presidential primary debates since last June. They’ve mattered, in the aggregate. A very young small-city mayor used them to demonstrate that he has enough presence to be a viable presidential candidate, while a former senator and vice president did the opposite. Progressive-wing campaigns rose and fell under never-ending rounds of “But can you really pay for it?” questions. Marianne Williamson won hearts, minds, and spirit auras, if not votes or the confidence of public health officials.
But now, at Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas—and next Tuesday’s in Charleston, South Carolina—it’s really time for everyone to put their cards on the table, push their chips in, double down, pull the lever, roll the dice, spin the wheel, and do whatever it is that one does to play baccarat. Candidates like Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer who have no real chance of winning the presidency have dropped out or failed to qualify for the stage. Michael “The Surging Bloomberg Campaign (TM)” Bloomberg will be there. And four candidates are competing to be the non-Bernie, non-Bloomberg option who survives Super Tuesday—if indeed anyone will.
Here, ranked in order of who has the most to least to lose, are the participants in the Las Vegas debate.
1. Michael Bloomberg.