When the students took the stage in Miami on Thursday for the second night of Democratic Primary Debates, Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders were the stars. By the time they walked off, all eyes were on Senator Kamala Harris.
Twitter is a bad gauge for public opinion, but a decent source for the assessments of professional observers, including some who know the stakes of debates best: veteran campaign Strategists and consultants from both parties.
No one could match Harris …
From beginning to end, Ms. Harris dominated the debate, starting with a pithy applause line – "America does not want a food fight; Mr. Biden over his record on race and desegregation. [All rights reserved] 19659005] [ Read more about Ms. Harris's moment with Mr. Biden. ]
"She proved that she can go after a male opponent without suffering from the gender stereotype of appearing overly aggressive or overly ambitious. She looked like a winner, plain & simple. "- Patti Solis Doyle adviser to the 2008 Obama campaign
"Hell of an exchange on race between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. If Kamala Harris becomes President, it will be because of this moment. "- Frank Luntz Republican consultant and pollster  "Harris directly confronting Biden on busing / segregationists what is historic, powerful, and unimaginable on a presidential stage until very recently, which is itself symptomatic of a world Biden is struggling to defend." – Rebecca Traister writer -at-large for New York magazine
"Here are my # demdebate2 rankings: 1. Kamala." – Zerlina Maxwell senior director of progressive programming at SiriusXM
… but Buttigieg had a good night
Pete Buttigieg received some tough questions, including one about a police officer's fatal shooting in South Bend, Ind., Where Mr. Buttigieg is mayor. He has been hacking the campaign for much of the week dealing with the crisis.
"Because I could not get it done," he said. before adding: "I could walk through all the steps that we took, from bios training to de-escalation, but it did not save the life of Eric Logan. And when I look into his mother's eyes, I have to tell him that. "
" I can not stop thinking about Pete Buttigieg's answer to that question. It was completely unexpected. Vulnerable, honest, heartfelt, and not one bit of cowardice in it. It was a leader's answer. "- Charlotte Clymer spokeswoman for Human Rights Campaign
" Once again, he took responsibility for his failure. But he spoke of the incident in very human terms; David Axelrod former senior adviser to Barack Obama
"If anyone is teaching media training classes for how to speak in English about complicated topics on television- @ PeteButtigieg is masterful at it. Never mentions bills, never mentions DC garbely gook. "- Jen Psaki former spokeswoman for Mr. Obama
Biden emerged worse for wear
Mr. Biden got some praise from analysts.
"Very smart for @JoeBiden to stick to who he is, what he stands for and not back away from it." – Jen Psaki
But once he starts tangling with Ms. Harris, things almost went downhill. Joe Biden typically does. "
Joe Biden typically does. But in that exchange with Harris, when she looked at him and gave anecdote to intensely staff, he fell short of doing so. "- Mo Elleithee Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service
"If you are the Biden folks tonight, you have two hopes: 1. The poor reviews convince your principal he needs to listen and come to next debate better prepared. Harris's knock-out was a Twitter phenomenon. "- Brian Fallon former aide to Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer
"Later debates could be more important. But this debate will not help Biden. "- Laura Belin Iowa political commentator
[ Read more about Mr. Biden's night. ]
As for the others …
Mr. Sanders is one of the highest-polling candidate in the race, with one of the most committed followings. But on Thursday, he struggled to pay attention.
Bernie has been in this debate. "- Mo Elleithee
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand did not make as much of a mark as Ms. Harris or Mr. Buttigieg.
"@ SenGillibrand is excellent at explaining her evolution from her previous positions – she says she was wrong, she listened, she learned, she changed. That's what Joe Biden Tonight said. "- Jess McIntosh executive editor of Shareblue Media
" Kirsten at her best. Prepared. Committed. Clear. "- Ilyse Hogue president of Naral
Representative Eric Swalwell was not as well received.
" Good God. I thought nobody could try more irritating interruptions than De Blasio last night. But Swalwell is giving him a run for his money. "- Ana Navarro-Cárdenas Republican strategist