Tonight, July 31, 2019, is the final of two Democratic debates in Detroit for July. This is the last time we’ll see 20 candidates debating two nights in a row for the Democratic nomination. Starting in September, things are going to get a lot stricter when it comes to qualifying for the debates. What time is the debate starting and how can you watch it on TV? Here’s a quick look at when you’ll need to tune in for the debate.
Debate Date: The first Democratic debate is taking place tonight: Wednesday, July 31, 2019.
Debate Time: The debate will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central) and last until 10 p.m. Eastern, so the debate will be two hours long. Tonight’s debate is starting an hour earlier than the debates started in June. A lot of people are happy about this change, since some time zones had to stay up pretty late to watch the debates last month.
On the West Coast, the debate will air simultaneously with the rest of the country (not on a delay like sometimes happens for West Coast television shows.) This means the debate will begin at 5 p.m. Pacific. That might be a little early for some people in California and other parts of the West Coast, who might just be getting off work when the debates are starting.
According to TV Guide, CNN is covering the debate for three hours until 11 p.m. Eastern. The last hour will likely be commentary and interviews, since the debate itself is scheduled to end at 10 p.m. Eastern.
Debate Channel: Tonight’s debate will be broadcast on CNN, CNN en Espanol, and CNN International. Live stream options will also be available on CNN.com, as well as CNN apps.
To find out what channel CNN is on for you, click here to go to TV Guide’s listings. Then change the “Provider” (right under TV Listings) to your local provider. You’ll be able to scroll down to see what channel any of those stations is on for you.
Debate Details: The lineup for tonight’s debate will include Jay Inslee, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, and Joe Biden.
This means we’re finally getting another showdown of Biden vs. Harris, and that will likely bring in some more viewers and higher ratings. Biden and Harris had some pretty extensive disagreements and moments that lived on in social media last month. Seeing them face off again tonight will generate a lot of interest. We’ll also have Andrew Yang, who’s a surprise candidate gaining momentum in the polls. His campaign has said that he’s already qualified for the September and October debates, which is a huge deal for the tech entrepreneur who was relatively unknown before he announced that he was running for President. Tulsi Gabbard, who recently announced that she is suing Google for turning off her ad account right after last week’s debate, will also be one to watch. But really, any of the 10 candidates could stand out and it’s anyone’s chance to shine tonight.
Tonight’s debate format will be a little different from the NBC debate in June, AP reported. CNN has said that they will not ask candidates to raise their hands in answer to specific questions, and they also won’t ask questions that are limited to yes or no answers.
Candidates will give opening statements and closing statements, unlike NBC’s debate which did not allow opening statements. Candidates will be given 60 seconds to answer a question and another 30 seconds to respond. Of course, it’s very possible that candidates will ignore this rule like they did in June. CNN has said that it might limit a candidate’s spotlight if he or she interrupts too much, AP reported. And CNN might also show candidates’ questions on screen so viewers can know if they’re answering the question, AP added.
The debate will last for two hours and it will be moderated by Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper.
Candidates in tonight’s debate qualified by either getting contributions from 65,000 unique donors (which includes 200 donors from 20 different states apiece) or getting one percent or higher in three qualifying polls. Things are going to be a lot stricter for the September debates, with candidates needing to qualify through both higher polling requirements and higher donation requirements.
For some candidates, this might be the last time we see them on the debate stage. Due to tougher requirements, only seven candidates have qualified so far for the September debates. Those who have qualified are: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and Cory Booker. (Yang’s campaign said they qualified, but the DNC disagreed based on one poll.) That means that during tonight’s debate, four out of eight of the qualifying candidates will be on the stage.