The Democratic primary field is so large that it was split into two days, with 10 candidates each appearing on stage at a time. Some candidates still didn’t make the cut.
How was the debate lineup chosen, and what’s the lineup and list for Wednesday, June 26? First of all, you can watch the debates from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. eastern time on both June 26 and June 27, 2019 on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo.
How else to watch the first Democratic debate? “The debate will stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms,” NBC News announced. “NBC News will also stream the debates live and in full on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.” You can find NBC News’ YouTube channel here.
The Democratic National Committee decided which candidates would take the stage on which day through random drawing. However, the DNC did establish criteria beforehand to determine which candidates could make the stage at all.
“The candidates were randomly selected from two boxes, with the candidates who had earned an average of 2 percent support in polls in one box, and the remainder in another box,” according to CBS News.
First, here is the Democratic debate lineup by day:
Wednesday, June 26, 2019: Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and John Delaney.
Thursday, June 27, 2019: Marianne Williamson, John Hickenlooper, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and Eric Swalwell.
Although DNC tried to avoid having a “kid’s table, undercard” debate like the Republicans in the past election, and despite the fact the debate schedule was randomly determined, Thursday does seem weighted toward heavyweight candidates, at least when it comes to the polls.
How did the DNC decide who would make the stage at all?
Here’s what you need to know:
The DNC Set Two Different Benchmarks to Qualify for the First Democratic Debate
According to Politico, the Democratic National Committee set two different thresholds for qualifying for the Democratic debate, and candidates had until June 12 to cross one of them or they didn’t make the stage. Some candidates fell by the wayside, including Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Bullock’s campaign was upset by the DNC’s rules, calling them “arbitrary,” according to Politico.
What were those thresholds? According to Politico, they are as follows:
1. “Earning 1 percent in three polls approved by the DNC.” The Atlantic defined this rule as “three separate national or early-state polls.” OR:
2. “Receiving donations from 65,000 people, with 200 in 20 different states.”
Thirteen candidates hit both, but a candidate only needed to meet one or the other to qualify. Those who met both benchmarks are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker, Marianne Williamson, Jay Inslee, and Amy Klobuchar.
Some candidates have complained that candidates are having to spend money simply to drive up their donor count to qualify for debates. The DNC isn’t backing down. “If you want to be president of the United States, you have to develop a proficiency at grassroots fundraising. That’s the only way we win,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said to The Atlantic. The DNC is planning to hold about a dozen debates, according to the Atlantic.
FiveThirtyEight pointed out that the threshold to enter the debate is actually pretty low, which is likely a reflection of criticism that the DNC weathered in the 2016 election, especially from Bernie Sanders’ supporters, who felt the DNC had tilted the election toward Hillary Clinton.