Twenty Democratic presidential candidates had their first chance to square off on the same stage this week.
A handful of them took steps that could help them stand out in the jammed field — while others struggled or gained little ground on a crowded debate stage.
Some of the race’s early leaders met expectations as contenders. Candidates such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg earned plaudits both in surveys and from pundits.
But others had performances during the Wednesday and Thursday night debates that made them stand out — for better or worse. A strong debate performance can help to propel a candidate with donors and media coverage, but it hardly guarantees a surge or sustained success in a primary. On the other hand, one poor performance does not necessarily deter a candidate’s campaign — especially if they come into the debate with strong support.
Here are five of the candidates that both post-debate polls and pundits identified…