How Long Is the Democratic Debate Tonight? When Does It End?


Tonight marks the fifth of the Democratic debates, this time in Atlanta, Georgia. With 10 candidates this time, we’re seeing two less on stage than the debate in October. But just how much time do you need to put aside for the debate tonight? Here are the details you need to know.

The Debate Is Scheduled to Last Two Hours, But It Could Go Longer

Tonight’s fifth official debate for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President is supposed to be two hours long, beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern and ending at 11 p.m. Eastern. The debate might, however, go a little long. It’s not unusual for two-hour debates to end up going past the scheduled end time, so don’t be surprised if the clock hits 11 p.m. and the debate’s not quite over yet. It could end on time, but plan your night to accommodate it possibly going long.

According to TV Guide, the debate is scheduled to end at 11 p.m. Eastern (10 p.m. Central). However, MSNBC only has a post-debate analysis show scheduled for after the debate, lasting from 11 p.m. Eastern to 1 a.m. Eastern. In other words, there’s quite a bit of cushioning in the schedule that would allow the debate to go long if needed without disrupting any TV programming.

Any news station you turn to after the debate is over will have plenty of recaps and reviews of the debate. So if you’re planning to host a watch party for this debate, then you might want to budget some time for an after-show too, even if you don’t want to continue watching MSNBC.

The lineup for tonight’s debate includes:

  • 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

How are these candidates doing in the polls so far? According to 538, the latest poll from SurveyUSA for Nov. 15-18 in Georgia shows Biden in the lead at 36 percent. Sanders is second at 17 percent and Warren is third at 14 percent, followed by Buttigieg, Bloomberg, and Harris.

In New Hampshire, the Saint Anselm College poll for Nov. 13-18 placed Buttigieg in first place at 25 percent. Biden follows at 15 percent and tied with Warren, followed by Sanders at 9 percent, Klobuchar at 6 percent, and Steyer at 5 percent.

The Public Policy Institute of California poll (for California from Nov. 3-12), places Biden in first at 24 percent, followed by Warren at 23 percent, Sanders at 17 percent, Harris at 8, and Buttigieg at 7. Yang follows next at 5 percent.

What about national polls? The HarrisX poll for Nov. 16-17 places Biden in first at 30 percent, Sanders second at 18 percent, Warren third at 15 percent, followed by Buttigieg at 7, Harris at 4, and Bloomberg at 3.

The Morning Consult poll for Nov. 11-17 shows Biden in first at 32 percent, Sanders second at 20 percent, Warren third at 17 percent, Buttigieg next at 8, Harris at 5, and Bloomberg at 3 (tied with Yang who also has 3.)

An Ipsos poll for Nov. 15 shows a tie for first at 19 percent between Biden and Sanders, followed by Warren at 13 percent, Buttigieg at 6, Harris at 3, and Bloomberg at 3.

As you can see, Biden still has the lead in many polls, but Sanders’ showing has been getting stronger recently. In some states, there have been a few surprises. And Bloomberg has been doing relatively well for someone who only recently entered the race.

After this, the next debate will be in December. Depending on how many qualify, we could have fewer people on stage this time around.

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