On Our Mind

Democratic Primary Debates

In just under three weeks, the Democratic Party will officially start down the long road of selecting our candidate for the 2020 presidential election.  

There has been much attention given to the number of candidates (twenty-four) who have announced that they are running to be the Democratic nominee. While campaigning is well-underway, the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Debates - organised by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) - have yet to begin. 

From the candidates’ point of view, being on or off the debate stage will determine if they can break out of the large pack of candidates.  From the voters’ point of view, the debates are our opportunity to hear the candidates explain their policy positions and to see them discuss head to head the issues that we care about.

To help you navigate all of the information before the debates get underway, here is a primer:

  • There will be up to twelve debates, starting June 2019.
  • The first debate will take place on two consecutive nights - June 26 & 27 in Miami, Florida at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts; followed by the second debate - July 30 & 31. The June debate will be hosted by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, and the July debate by CNN. The third debate on September 12 & 13 will be hosted by ABC. 
  • There are a maximum of twenty candidates who will qualify for the first two debates - ten candidates on stage each night
  • To qualify, candidates must earn at least 1 percent support in three separate national or early-state polls conducted from January 1 to two weeks before the given debate, or receive donations from at least 65,000 people across 20 different states, with a minimum of 200 unique donors per state.
  • To ensure a good mix of candidates for each debate night, the final 20 candidates will be divided into two groups based on polling averages and then randomly assigned to one of the two dates
  • The deadline for qualifying for the first debate is June 12th

For more detailed information there are articles aplenty.  Here are a few:

So, where are we? 
As of June 6th, twenty candidates have qualified by meeting at least one of the criteria set by the DNC. 

Thirteen of those have virtually assured their spot on the debate stage by meeting both the polling and contribution thresholds.  The thirteen who have qualified definitively are:

  • Joe Biden - Former Vice President
  • Cory Booker - New Jersey Senator
  • Pete Buttigieg - South Bend, Indiana Mayor
  • Julián Castro - Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary
  • Tulsi Gabbard - Hawaii Representative
  • Kamala Harris - California Senator
  • Jay Inslee - Washington Governor
  • Amy Klobuchar - Minnesota Senator
  • Beto O'Rourke - Former Texas Representative
  • Bernie Sanders - Vermont Senator
  • Elizabeth Warren - Massachusetts Senator
  • Andrew Yang - Tech entrepreneur
  • Marianne Williamson - Motivational speaker

The seven contenders who qualified for the debates through only the polling threshold are:

  • Michael Bennet - Colorado Senator
  • Bill de Blasio - New York City Mayor
  • John Delaney - Former Maryland Representative
  • Kirsten Gillibrand - New York Senator
  • John Hickenlooper - Former Colorado Governor
  • Tim Ryan - Ohio Representative
  • Eric Swalwell - California Representative

It's not surprising that, given the stakes, the debates have had some controversy, with discussion of which polls will be considered for qualification for the June and July debates, a doubling in the threshold qualification criteria for the third debate in September, and, recently, questions about why there is no debate focused on the issue of climate change. 

And, notably, with a large number or women running, the Democratic National Committee is requiring that each 2020 Democratic presidential debate includes at least one female moderator.

Come to a Democrats Abroad France Debate Watch Party!

Interested in following the debates?  Learning about the candidates?  Discussing the primaries with other Dems? 

Democrats Abroad France will hold debate watch events throughout the debate season! We will show the debates in replay - so you don't have to stay up all night to see the reactions of and interactions among the candidates.

Please go to our events page to find a debate watch event near you.  Be sure to check back regularly as new events will be added over the next couple of weeks for the first debate in June. Bring friends! All are welcome!