DemDaily: Tonight’s Debate

July 30, 2019

Tonight kicks off the second Democratic primary debate, one of 12 official party debates over the course of the 2020 presidential cycle.

The first ten of 20 primary contenders, divided over two nights, will grace the stage in  Detroit, Michigan in what is expected to be a make-or-break performance for most of the current contenders.

The first debate, which was held in Miami, Florida June 26th and 27th, broke records for the most-watched Democratic primary debate in history, with 18.1 million people tuning in the second night by television, and another 9 million via livestream online.

First Night Stage Line Up (CNN)

For the first night, all eyes are expected to be on the first-time match up between top contenders and leading progressives Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Senator Bernie Sanders (VT).

Observers will also be looking for an exchange between former Congressman Beto O'Rourke (TX) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who appears to be pulling from O'Rourke's support and who is placed in the top tier by many due to his fundraising success.

Similarly, the second night offers a rematch of former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris (CA), whose heated exchange over race and school busing became the key takeaway from the first debate.

The Format
In keeping with debate networks' commitment to include a woman and a person of color among the moderators, CNN's Don Lemon, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will pose the questions both nights.

Candidates will deliver opening and closing statements, will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for responses and rebuttals.

Colored lights will be used to help the candidates manage their remaining response times, and those who repeatedly interrupt will have their time reduced.

Second Night Stage Line Up (CNN)

The first and second debates fall under the DNC's new debate requirements, announced in February, of meeting a polling threshold of 1% or a fundraising requirement of at least 65,000 individual donors.

To accommodate the large field, the debates will occur over two consecutive nights in prime time, and capped at 20 candidates. In deciding the final 20 debate participants, candidates crossing both the polling and fundraising thresholds rank over candidates who only crossed one. The remaining debaters qualify based on polling performance.

Polls must be among DNC-approved national or early state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada. Any qualifying poll must include a full list of presidential candidates for respondents.

Absent from the second debate are Congressman Seth Moulton (MA), former Congressman Joe Sestak (PA) and billionaire activist Tom Steyer (CA), who recently entered the 2020 contest. Former Senator Mike Gravel (AK), now been largely left out of the count of candidates altogether, also did not make the cut, and Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA) dropped out of the race earlier this month. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who announced in May, will be making his stage debut.

Date Tuesday, July 30th
Time 8:00pm EDT
Location The Fox Theatre, Detroit, Michigan
Candidates Williamson, Ryan, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, 
O'Rourke, Hickenlooper, Delaney, Bullock
Networks CNN, CNN International, and CNN en Español
Moderators Don Lemon, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash
Live Streaming CNN's website, mobile apps and connected TVs via CNNgo. DNC Website
Qualifications 1) Meet a 1% polling threshold in at least three separate national or early primary state polls, or 2) Receive donations from 65,000 individual donors and a minimum of 200 unique donors in at least 20 states

Following the release of second quarter fundraising totals, the division between what is now the top tier of five candidates, and the remainder of the field, has become more distinct, and the second tier is expected to winnow soon.

For the third and fourth debates in the Fall, contenders must meet both the new polling requirements and the grassroots fundraising qualifications, which will double. Only seven of the candidates have so far qualified for the September debate, which will take place September 12-13 in Houston, Texas.

DemList will keep you informed.


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Kimberly Scott

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