Yeah, this is a bug up my butt. I'm a staunch believer in having everything in the election be done in the actual year of that election.
2) The main candidates for the Democratic nomination are pretty much who we thought they were.
The post-debate talk from observers - from Driftglass to the Balloon-Juicers to the Atlantic crew - has been about the same. To quote from The Atlantic's review:
...Hillary Clinton delivered a typically strong performance, much as expected; Bernie Sanders played to type, railing against corporations and inequality. Martin O’Malley kept to his strategy of hitting Clinton. And Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee remained, for the most part, marginal to what was going on.
In the years leading up to the election, some Democrats worried that Clinton would be hobbled by not facing challengers in the primary, and Tuesday night’s debate showed the truth of that point. She’s a polished, experienced debater, and she profited from standing on stage with the four men in the field. Chafee and Webb seemed nervous and uncomfortable, while Sanders was—as always—Sanders: Fervent, grumpy, unfiltered, and righteously angry. The factors that have made him an idol to many Democratic voters and eroded Clinton’s polling also make her look more presidential when they’re standing next to each other...
In short: nothing changed. Hillary remains the front-runner, Sanders the hardy Far Left challenger, and the other three guys clinging to hopes of getting a Cabinet position in a Hillary administration.
3) There were significant enough differences between the candidates to be able to tell one from the other, which points towards a more inclusive big-tent party that could win the moderate/centrist voters in November 2016.
Unlike the Republicans' candidates, where there are few differences on key policy issues - they all want massive tax cuts, an end to Planned Parenthood (as a proxy to ending abortion), and gutting the social safety nets - the Democrats could and did debate on the relative merits of issues like gun safety and the economy to where every concern could be addressed or confronted. The Republicans risk running a Me-Too type of debate where the only way to win is to yell and shout louder than the other candidates: That has a way of tuning those centrist voters out.
4) Joe Biden is not going to find an opening to get into the race now.
The big reason the "Draft Biden" crowd kept pushing him as a late entry to the campaigning was out of fear that Hillary was going to be a weak front-runner.
The debate performance showed that Hillary can do just fine: she presented herself as a strong opponent, handled her main critics Bernie and O'Malley with few problems, and remained the front-runner of a small field.
Meanwhile, Sanders himself retained the Far Left position he's running with, only faltered big time over the gun safety debate, and ended the night as the strong alternative to Hillary.
If Biden jumps in, he will likely run into those two candidates like they were both brick walls. The only ones who'll lose for certain with a Biden campaign are Chafee and O'Malley. Webb is too far right on the social conservatism scale to be affected... which is why he's down around the one-percent support numbers in the first place.
5) The Democrats still need to ensure a massive Get The Damn Vote Out effort this 2016.
Because the only way the Republicans can win the White House right now is through massive voter suppression efforts.
GET TO WORK, DEMOCRATS.