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

Democratic Debate

Getty Democratic Debate

Tonight marks the sixth of the Democratic debates, this time in Los Angeles, California. With seven candidates this time, it’s the smallest Democratic debate yet. But just how much time do you need to put aside for the debate tonight? Here are the details you need to know.

NOTE: If you are here looking for how long the Democratic debate is on March 15, 2020, please see Heavy’s story here.

The Debate Is Scheduled to Last Three Hours

Tonight’s sixth official debate for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President is supposed to be three hours long, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern and ending at 11 p.m. Eastern. The debate might, however, go a little long, even up to an hour longer. So don’t be surprised if the clock hits 11 p.m. and the debate’s not over yet. It could end on time, but plan your night to accommodate it possibly going long.

UPDATE: Shortly before 10:30 p.m. Eastern the questions had concluded and closing statements were beginning, so it looks like the debate is going to end on time.

According to TV Guide, both PBS and CNN are airing the debate tonight, and they both have different amounts of time set aside for their coverage. CNN’s listing for the debate tonight is “CNN Democratic Debate: Los Angeles.” CNN has set aside 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern for the debate, followed by two hours of “CNN Post Debate Analysis.”

Local PBS stations are airing the debate under the title “PBS Newshour & Politico Democratic Debate.” On PBS, the debate is scheduled to last from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Eastern. Yes, that’s four hours  — PBS has an extra hour set aside for the debate. Meanwhile, CNN’s post-debate analysis could certainly accommodate the debate if it lasted longer than three hours. So be prepared for the possibility that the debate might run until 12 a.m. Eastern for four hours, or it could end as early as 11 p.m. Eastern.

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 extra time.

The lineup for tonight’s debate includes:

  • Joe Biden, former Vice President
  • Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator
  • Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator
  • Tom Steyer, businessman
  • Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator
  • Andrew Yang, entrepreneur

How are these candidates doing in the polls so far? According to 538, the latest poll from YouGov has Biden leading at 29%, followed by Sanders at 19% and Warren at 17%. Next are Buttigieg at 7%, Klobuchar at 4%, and Yang at 3%.

A HarrisX poll for Dec. 13-14 showed Biden leading at 29%, followed by Sanders at 13% and Warren at 13%. Buttigieg and Bloomberg tied at 5%, with Castro at 4%.

Echelon Insights had several polls that all put Biden in a strong lead. Then for Dec. 15-17, Emerson College’s poll placed Biden at 32%, followed by Sanders at 25%, Warren at 12%, Buttigieg at 8% and Yang at 6%.

Quinnipiac University’s Dec. 11-15 poll placed Biden at 30%, followed by Warren at 17%, Sanders at 16%, Buttigieg at 9%, Bloomberg at 7%, and Klobuchar at 3%.

In the most recent polls, Biden has been leading with Sanders following most frequently in second place. Buttigieg seems to be doing better in the more recent polls than he did just before the last debate.

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

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