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Democratic debate: Latino politics professor, young dems weigh in

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont,, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont,, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Ratings were pretty strong for Tuesday night's debate between Democratic presidential candidates. About 11 percent of all homes with televisions tuned into CNN to watch the event.

The cable network says almost 1 million additional viewers live-streamed the match-up in Las Vegas. The numbers indicate it's the most-viewed Democratic debate in history. 

So how did the candidates do? 

Louis DeSipio, professor of political science and latino studies at UC Irvine, says viewers came to hear about the issues, and the presidential hopefuls didn't disappoint. 

"I thought it was a good show," he said. "I think they were civil with each other, which was a little bit different from the Republican debates, so overall I think the Democrats put on a good face." 

The tone of the evening was noticeably different than that of the previous two GOP debates. Moderator Anderson Cooper wasted no time drilling Hillary Clinton on her frequent policy shifts. DeSipio says she handled the pressure well. 

"She came across -- I think -- much more comfortable with the audience than she did in some of the 2008 debates, and she was comfortable with her peers," he said.

DeSipio says Clinton's only hangup came when she attempted to speak about subsidized college tuition for undocumented students.

"She was pulling her punches a little bit, and she gets lost in long sentences then -- as opposed to things that she's comfortable with like foreign policy where she's very clear." DeSipio said.

DeSipio added that Clinton is walking a fine line. She must answer in a way that will position her to win the primaries and the general election.

"[She's] not always sure which audience she's talking to," he said. 

Turning his attention to Sen. Bernie Sanders, DeSipio says his dedication to socialist principles went over well with Democrats, but could make him a tough sell if he progresses to the general election.

"As secretary Clinton pointed out, we valorize small business in the United States much more than any of the other advanced democracies. We've had a very entrepreneurial kind of culture going back to our first days, and socialism has always been the enemy in that," he said.

Three other candidates occupied the stage last night. DeSipio says only one managed to stand out. 

"I think that governor O'Malley did a good job," DeSipio said. "He was probably the most comfortable of the three of those. He was supportive at times of senator Sanders, at times of secretary Clinton, and he demonstrated knowledge of a range of policy areas," he said. 

DeSipio added that Sen. Jim Webb stood out as well, albeit for a less-than-desirable reason. 

"Sen. Webb -- I think -- probably hurt himself by constantly complaining that he wasn't getting enough speaking time," he said. 

LA's young democrats react 

The Los Angeles County Young Democrats held an official debate viewing party at Gamz Tuesday night. The group's president, Daniel Lopez, said Clinton started the debate on the defensive, but that was to be expected.

"The first debate of the year and of the cycle? You're going to have this. You're going to have a lot of questions," he said. "You have a lot of people who have not been in the political process since the 2008 cycle, and they're going to have a lot of questions about Hillary, and I think she did a very good job at defending herself and explaining why she has the best leadership to lead the country."

Press the play button above to hear more from UC Irvine professor Louis DeSipio.

To hear more from the viewing party, click the bonus audio below the audio player.