(Tom Toles/The Washington Post)

Christine Emba here with Round 22. As Marianne Williamson would like to say to all of Europe: “We’re baaaaaaaack!”

I won’t be, though, at least for a while. I’m taking the next two months off to work on a book project. The rankings are off next week for the Fourth, but thereafter, editorial writer and columnist (and millennial!) Molly Roberts will be taking my spot.

The Commentary

Two nights, four hours and 20 candidates, including several who seemed to have wandered in off the street (looking at you, Tim Ryan). The result: a huge shake-up to the rankings.

Copping the electrifying language of Eric Swalwell, the debates offered a pretty good argument for passing the torch. Self-identified torchbearer Joe Biden looked, well … old. Maybe it’s the millennial in me speaking, but his callbacks to his senatorial past made him seem ancient, not experienced. How was it possible he was already a senator when Kamala D. Harris was still a child on a school bus?! In an encounter with Harris over segregationists and busing, he refused to apologize and crumbled at the end: “My time is up, I’m sorry.” You said it, Joe, not me!

Bernie Sanders also showed if not his age, then the aging of his ideas. In 2016, shouting about big business and “rejecting the premises” of every question was exciting. This year? Sanders seems like a character actor playing himself. The uniqueness of his look onstage — rumpled suit, expansive gestures poor Biden found positively alarming — is what makes it seem so stale now.

Night No. 1 was a little tamer, and Elizabeth Warren was clearly the apex candidate on the stage. Her first answer set the tone for the night: bold plans and the courage and expertise to put them into place. Warren seemed well practiced, comfortable and eager to be there — electable, even? To the others: Stop pandering, por favor.

All that said, the real winner this week was Harris. She had a compassionate story to illustrate every policy question, and the crowd ate it up. But Harris also was bold enough to take on the Democratic favorite headlong, and she definitely came out ahead. She didn’t spend that much time detailing her policies (reversals have dogged her in the past), but we have plenty of debates to come.

In the words of my new favorite author/presidential candidate/crystal energy healer (just guessing on that last one): “Girlfriend, you are so on.”

— Christine Emba

The Ranking

Ranking not showing? Click here.

Position Challenger Change Over Last Ranking
1. Kamala D. Harris UP 4
2. Elizabeth Warren
3. Joe Biden DOWN 2
4. Bernie Sanders DOWN 1
5. Pete Buttigieg DOWN 1
6. Cory Booker
7. Julián Castro UP 2
8. Amy Klobuchar
9. Michael Bennet UP 1
10. Beto O’Rourke DOWN 3
11. John Delaney UP 1
12. Tim Ryan UP 2
13. (TIE) Bill de Blasio RETURNS TO RANKING
13. (TIE) Kirsten Gillibrand DOWN 3
13. (TIE) Marianne Williamson ADDS TO RANKING

Falls off ranking: John Hickenlooper, Andrew Yang

Also receiving votes: Hickenlooper, Seth Moulton, Stacey Abrams, Jay Inslee

Last week’s ranking: Week 21 | 2020 contenders are going to fully air Biden out for this

Don’t forget to click on the yellow highlighted text above to expand the Ranking Committee’s annotations. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, harness some love, why don’t you?

Read more on the first debates:

Greg Sargent: Kamala Harris’s lethal precision shows she can prosecute Trump

Karen Tumulty: One Texan had a breakout night. The other had the roughest.

Jennifer Rubin: The first debate: Who won, who lost and what matters

Megan McArdle: Elizabeth Warren’s support for abolishing private insurance is bold — and risky

Hugh Hewitt: Buttigieg and Harris were Thursday’s clear winners