In the first two of what promises to be a vibrant and dynamic series of debates among those vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, candidates did not shy away from addressing such critical issues as which of them most disliked President Donald Trump, and whether they felt it important to defeat him in the coming election - and Democratic voters were impressed.
"The debates weren't nearly the farce that people predicted," said registered Democrat Carla Hanson of St. Louis, Missouri, of the staged televised events. "I came away with a much clearer sense of the candidates' passion and overall hatred levels of Trump. I found it really helpful."
Bill Flynn of Boston, Massachusetts, said he found former vice president Joe Biden quite convincing in denying recent allegations of racism. "The fact that he served alongside a black president was the determining factor for me," said Flynn. "To me, that gives him real credibility."
Lifelong registered Democrat Cheryl Padden of Chicago said she, too, came away with a newfound respect for Biden's opposition to racism. What really gave her hope for the future, however, was the candidates' forward-thinking views on the pressing matter of climate change.
"They were almost unanimously opposed to global warming," she said. "I'm also against climate change, so that's something that's very important to me."
Padden did find a bit extreme, however, the views of one candidate, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who has taken on the climate crisis as his signature campaign issue. "Honestly, he seemed a little obsessed," she said. "I prefer a candidate who's a bit more diverse."
And for staunch Democrat Lucie Markham of New York City, the biggest overall takeaway from the two nights of debates was the politicians' compelling stage presence. "They were so articulate," she said.
Markham admitted to being taken aback, however, when, on the first of the debate nights, a number of candidates began speaking Spanish onstage - which didn't win them any points with Markham.
"They should be trying to win over people like me first," she said. "Don't they realize people in Puerto Rico can't vote?"