Hillary Clinton had a bad moment at Saturday night's Democratic presidential debate when she cited her work helping Wall Street recover from the Sept. 11 attacks for the support she has received from big financial interests.
Otherwise, though, there is basically no reason to believe that she did anything to hurt her status as the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination. And a survey conducted after the debate backs that up.
The CBS News Knowledge Panel poll of Democrats and independents who watched the debate shows that 51 percent viewed Clinton as the winner. Twenty-eight percent said Bernie Sanders won, and 7 percent said Martin O'Malley won. Those numbers — probably not coincidentally — closely mirror where the national poll numbers are right now. In other words, it seems likely that Clinton supporters thought she won and Sanders supporters thought he won. Little changed.
And the numbers below support that. Basically, equal numbers liked each candidate more or less after the debate. And nobody alienated a bunch of voters.
That is what you call a status-quo debate.
What really changed, though, happened before the debate, when the terrorist attacks in Paris recast the focus of our world and our political system. Suddenly, foreign policy is much more of a real thing. The Islamic State militant group is no longer an abstract thing snapping up territory far away; it has successfully shown an ability to attack the Western world and cause mass carnage.
And to the extent that foreign policy is suddenly something people might actually vote on, Saturday suggested that is a very good thing for Clinton.
The CBS poll showed debate-watchers actually trust Sanders more on income inequality (58 percent to 31 percent) and are pretty evenly split on who is better on the economy and jobs (43 percent for Sanders to 40 percent for Clinton) and gun policy (36-43). But on foreign policy, Sanders is on much shakier ground. Much.
Clinton is favored more than 2-to-1 when it comes to who people think would do the best job of handling foreign policy (67-22), terrorism (64-26) and the Islamic State in particular (61-27). She leads on those issues by even more than she leads in national polls.
These numbers clearly suggest that, to the extent the presidential race remains about the pocketbook issues and income inequality that have dominated so far, Sanders can compete.
To the extent that it now has more to do with what just happened in Paris, Sanders is much more out of his element. It's why, in his opening statement on Saturday, he quickly pivoted from a mention of Paris to talking about income inequality and campaign finance reform. Clinton spent her entire opening statement on Paris.
It's no wonder that the Sanders campaign reportedly protested the shift in focus of Saturday's debate to include more questions about foreign policy.