Watercooler

Say My Name, Say My Name

Who merited the most mentions during last week’s presidential debate? The results—which highlight the differences in candidates’ strategic approaches—may surprise you.

There were 10 candidates participating in the Democratic primary debate in Houston, Texas, last Thursday, but the two individuals mentioned most weren’t on stage.

Candidates invoked President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama more than any other individuals, including the entire 2020 Democratic presidential field.

These mentions tell an interesting story about debate strategy. Eight of the 10 candidates mentioned President Trump, with the exception of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). In fact, Sanders didn’t mention Obama either. Instead, he focused on the other candidates on stage, in a marked contrast to his competition.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) mentioned Trump more than any other candidate—a total of 10 times. Occasionally, she even stared directly into the camera to speak to the President.

We’ll be watching to see which of these strategies work for the candidates going forward.