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Takeaway: In last night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton appeared to beat out a meandering Bernie Sanders.

Editor's Note: Below is a brief excerpt from Potomac Research Group Senior Analyst JT Taylor's Morning Bullets sent to institutional clients each morning. 

ABOUT LAST NIGHT...

JT Taylor: Clinton Hits Her Stride In Debate ... But Stumbles On Wall Street Ties - bernie hill

We saw one of the most substantive, spirited, and aggressive debates of the whole election so far last night. From our perch, Clinton outperformed expectations and we suspect she'll take a significant bite out of Sanders' 30-point lead in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Both did well throughout the night (and the moderators didn't compete for the spotlight), but after they sped through the 'stump speech' portion of the debate in the first hour, the advantage shifted Clinton's way as she demonstrated her versatility and command of the issues.

Bernie didn't do as well with the open format, and meandered at several points before reverting back to his familiar Wall Street refrain. The real upshot of last night is that Clinton showed something new, engaging, and well, presidential – injecting some much-needed confidence back into her campaign as the trail heads south where she needs to hit her stride. 

All was not entirely copacetic on the Clinton side, though...

CLINTON STUMBLES

We've said this before and we'll say it again: Hillary Clinton remains puzzlingly inept at handling questions about her ties to Wall Street. While she was marginally better on the topic last night, when asked on Wednesday about the nagging issue of receiving $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman, her response was: "Well, that's what they offered."

Her campaign staff is at least sensitive to the issue, rescheduling her second Wall Street fundraiser in as many weeks until after the New Hampshire vote. Between the speaking fees and campaign contributions, her rhetorical assault on the financial sector rings hollow, even to non-Sanders supporters.