What Time & Channel Does the Fifth Democratic Debate Air Tonight?

Fifth Democratic Debate

Getty Fifth Democratic Debate

The fifth Democratic debate is tonight, Wednesday, November 20, 2019. 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 as candidates seek the Democratic nomination.

Debate Time & Channel


Debate Date: The fifth Democratic debate is taking place tonight: Wednesday, November 20, 2019.

Debate Time: The debate will start a little later than you might be used to watching your debates. This one doesn’t begin until 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. Central) and is expected to end at 11 p.m. Eastern. This also means the debate will be a little shorter than they normally run. (However, be prepared because debates sometimes run a little longer than expected.)

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 airings.) This means the debate will begin at 6 p.m. Pacific.

According to TV Guide, MSNBC is hosting a pre-debate show before the debate begins and then will have two hours of post-debate analysis following the debate until 1 a.m. Eastern.

Debate Channel: Tonight’s debate will be broadcast on TV on MSNBC. Live stream options will also be available.

To find out what channel MSNBC 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 MSNBC is on for you.

Details About Tonight’s Debate

Because of more stringent debate requirements, the candidates in tonight’s debate are narrowed down to just 12 rather than 20. Two additional candidates qualified since the last debate in September. In order to qualify for this debate, the candidates needed at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls between June 28 and October 1, and donations from 130,000 unique donors.

The candidates for tonight are:

  • Joe Biden, former Vice President
  • Cory Booker, New Jersey senator
  • Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Kamala Harris, California senator
  • Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator
  • Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator
  • Tom Steyer, businessman
  • Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator
  • Andrew Yang, entrepreneur
  • Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii congresswoman

There are two fewer candidates tonight than in the last debate. Beto O’Rourke withdrew from the race and Julian Castro did not qualify.

The debate is being held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Tyler Perry Studios. The debate is co-hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post. Tonight’s debate will be moderated by an all-female panel: Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker, and Ashley Parker.

The last time MSNBC hosted a debate, it had a lot of mic issues that caused quite a bit of controversy later. Andrew Yang, for example, said he noticed his mic was muted several times when he tried to speak.

To qualify for tonight’s debate, candidates had to poll at 3 percent or higher for four qualifying early-state or national polls, or they must poll at 5 percent or higher in two early-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina. They must also receive donations from 165,000 unique donors, which includes at least 600 individual donors in at least 20 states.

The next debate after tonight’s will take place on December 19 in Los Angeles. It will be hosted by Politico and PBS. The qualifications are stricter for this next one. A candidate must get at least 4 percent in four qualifying polls (nationally or in early voting states)  between October 16 and December 12, or at least 6 percent in two early state polls (that’s Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada.) They must also have donations from at least 200,000 unique donors, which includes 800 unique donors in at least 20 states.

So far, six have qualified for December, according to The Washington Post. These are Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren.

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