An Emporia State political scientist sees the first night of the two Democratic debates as being a search for a foil for former Vice President Joe Biden.

The classic model in party primaries that they usually follow, is that you have a standard-bearer candidate and a challenger,” said Michael Smith with ESU. “Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2016 are a great example.”

There wasn’t a lot in Wednesday’s debate that will interest the public at large.

“Candidates last night did a great job of avoiding gaffes,” said Smith. “There wasn’t really a lot of drama.”

It’s also important to note that we are still months away from even the Iowa and New Hampshire primary contests. Not a lot of people are paying attention, yet.

“When you have this sheer number of candidates, the question is who breaks out from the pack,” said Smith. “I didn’t see any real breakouts. There were certainly some people that were poised and had some good points, but then the next person would talk and that person was also poised and had some good points and so forth. That’s why I’m applying the standard-bearer challenger model as what looks to me, as a political scientist, like a better way to kind of winnow through this massive field of candidates.”

With the presumed front-runner, Joe Biden on the stage tonight, it will be interesting to see if anyone goes after him directly.