The opposition researchers for each of the Democratic candidates were the real big winners tonight. All three were prepared to fire guns at each other and they did. There were no real mistakes made nor any major home runs. The candidates were good and despite some sharp jabs and disagreements, they were mostly on the same page on major issues.

The debate was a draw and thus Iowa and New Hampshire should remain very competitive. I don't see any real jump in the polls for anyone candidate, nor any loss of position either. Here is how I see each performance:

Hillary Clinton once again appeared strong, experienced, and ready to embrace President Obama in a state where over half of the primary voters are African American. She was very strong on the Flint drinking water crisis, on her "relationship" with Vladimir Putin, and on health care. "We don't really need to start all over again"., she responded to Bernie Sanders. She spoke the most about women and equal pay, on Black Lives Matter, and on guns.

She landed a few punches on Sanders on health care and guns. But her chief weakness was in not representing how to fix Washington, DC. She is the establishment candidate in a year that could very well hurt her. She also had no response to her support for the Iraq War.

Bernie Sanders was even stronger on Flint, calling on the Governor to resign for ignoring a majority African American community. Although Mrs. Clinton tried to put him on the defensive he was never in that position. He deflected her attacks on his position on Medicare for all and on guns. In response to her charge that he voted against liability for gun manufacturers, he reminded her and everyone else that he received a D- grade from the National Rifle Association. He reminded Mrs. Clinton and everyone watching that he was gaining in the polls, that he opposed the War in Iraq which he charged was the cause of chaos in the region, and refused to take the bait from the moderators to go beyond an issues-oriented campaign. He positioned himself as the revolutionary, the guy who won't take money from super PACs, and hit home on Mrs. Clinton taking over $600,000 last year from Goldman Sachs, a company recently fined $2 billion. Sanders emerged where he wanted to be -- a credible contrast to the frontrunner.

He was a bit weak on health care. While his policy was clear, can he really expect to dredge this whole debate all over again and win a single payer program?

Martin O'Malley had a very strong performance. He delineated his record on criminal justice reform, on gun safety, on health care, education, and more. He was credible as one who "has already done on a state level" what he sees needs to be done nationally. He also noted that "climate change is a great business opportunity" for this nation. He also helped Sanders by stating that Mrs. Clinton was not telling the truth about her support from and her policies toward Wall Street.

His weakness, which was pointed out by Mrs. Clinton, is that he also sought Wall Street money when he headed the Democratic Governors Association.

When all is said and done, I think O'Malley goes up a few points, while Sanders and Clinton stay neck and neck.