I posted my thoughts and observations here after the KGW debate. And I just got home from watching the KATU debate live at Pacific University which is about a 2 minute drive from my house.
The KGW debate I effectively called a tie between Merkley and Novick. I thought Jeff did slightly better during the actual debate, and I thought that Steve outperformed everyone with his closing statement - which hopefully lends me some small measure of credibility since my creds as a Merkley partisan are, I think, beyond question here at Blue Oregon.
This KATU debate was substantially different, in my opinion. From my second row vantage point (as close as the audience was allowed) Jeff Merkley was much more animated and passionate in both his demeaner and with his answers. There was no stage of this debate which he lost. His opening statement and closing statements in particular were, I thought, outta-the-park home runs. But even the debate itself he dominated with passionate, on-message answers. Clearly all signs of the illness he was suffering from during the KGW debate was gone this evening.
I would say that Steve Novick easily came in second, but his closing statement lacked the zing that his closer at the KGW debate had. Several of his answers were, I felt, quite good. Particularly on immigration. But he didn't seem nearly as passionate or charismatic as Jeff Merkley. Candy Neville was improved from the KGW debate, but not so much so that she earned better than third place, nor did she credibly challenge either Merkley or Novick. David Loera was passionate but clearly nothing more than a one-trick (immigration) pony. I spoke to John Schrag, the editor of the Forest Grove News Times, afterwards and he kind of chuckled when I mentioned Loera and said that at least Loera made his point... "over and over and over."
Afterwards most folks in the audience exited while various media photographers took posed still shots of the candidates. But a small group of audience members surged towards the stage and patiently waited for the media types to finish up, at which point Jeff Merkley came down and found himself surrounded by citizens wanting to shake his hand and ask him questions while the other candidates chatted with each other and with dignitaries on the stage. All of which just reinforced my sense that he'd won the debate.
If you watched it live on TV, what were your impressions?