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2020 Democratic Party presidential debates and forums

DebatesEdit

Sites of the first five Democratic presidential debates; there will be twelve total (D1–D12) in 2019–20

ScheduleEdit

In December 2018, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced the preliminary schedule for 12 official DNC-sanctioned debates, set to begin in June 2019, with six debates in 2019 and the remaining six during the first four months of 2020. Candidates are allowed to participate in forums featuring multiple other candidates as long as only one candidate appears on stage at a time; if candidates participate in any unsanctioned debate with other presidential candidates, they will lose their invitation to the next DNC-sanctioned debate.[1][2]

If any debates will be scheduled to take place with a location in the first four primary/caucus states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina), the DNC has decided such debates, at the earliest, will be held in 2020.[1] The DNC also announced that it would not partner with Fox News as a media sponsor for any debates.[3][4] Fox News had last held a Democratic debate in 2003.[5] All media sponsors selected to host a debate will as a new rule be required to appoint at least one female moderator for each debate, to ensure there will not be a gender skewed treatment of the candidates and debate topics.[6]

Debate schedule
Debate Date Time
(ET)
Viewers Location Sponsor(s) Moderator(s) Ref(s)
1A Jun. 26, 2019 9–11 pm ~24.3 million
(15.3m live TV; 9m streaming)
Arsht Center,
Miami, Florida
NBC News
MSNBC
Telemundo
Jose Diaz-Balart
Savannah Guthrie
Lester Holt
Rachel Maddow
Chuck Todd
[7][8]
[9][10]
1B Jun. 27, 2019 9–11 pm ~27.1 million
(18.1m live TV; 9m streaming)
2A Jul. 30, 2019 8–10:30 pm ~11.5 million
(8.7m live TV; 2.8m streaming)
Fox Theatre,
Detroit, Michigan
CNN Dana Bash
Don Lemon
Jake Tapper
[11][12][13][14]
2B Jul. 31, 2019 8–10:30 pm ~13.8 million
(10.7m live TV; 3.1m streaming)
3 Sep. 12, 2019 8–11 pm 14.04 million live TV Health and Physical Education Arena,
Texas Southern University,
Houston, Texas
ABC News
Univision
Linsey Davis
David Muir
Jorge Ramos
George Stephanopoulos
[15][16][17]
4 Oct. 15, 2019 8–11 pm 8.34 million live TV Rike Physical Education Center,
Otterbein University,
Westerville, Ohio
CNN
The New York Times
Erin Burnett
Anderson Cooper
Marc Lacey
[18][19][20][21][22]
5 Nov. 20, 2019 TBA TBD, Metro Atlanta ("likely"),
Georgia
MSNBC
The Washington Post
TBA [23]
6 Dec. 2019 TBA
7 Jan.–Apr. 2020
8
9
10
11
12

ParticipationEdit

The following is a table of participating candidates in each debate:

Participating candidates in the DNC-sanctioned debates[24][25][15]
Candidate

 P  Present  A  Absent  I  Invited  N  Not invited  Out  Not yet entered race  W  Withdrawn

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Bennet P P N N TBA
Biden P P P P
Booker P P P P
Bullock N P N N
Buttigieg P P P P
Castro P P P P
Delaney P P N N
Gabbard P P N P
Harris P P P P
Klobuchar P P P P
Messam N N N N
O'Rourke P P P P
Ryan P P N N
Sanders P P P P
Sestak Out N N N
Steyer Out N N P
Warren P P P P
Williamson P P N N
Yang P P P P
de Blasio P P N W
Gillibrand P P W
Gravel N N W
Hickenlooper P P W
Inslee P P W
Moulton N N W
Swalwell P W

First debates (June 26–27, 2019)Edit

QualificationEdit

To qualify for the first debate, entrants had to, at a minimum, achieve one of the two criteria listed. If this had resulted in more than 20 qualified candidates, the two criteria would have been evaluated in combination per an outlined set of tiebreaking rules, but since 20 candidates qualified, no tiebreaker was necessary.[26] The deadline for candidates to meet either of the below criteria was June 12.[27][28]

SummaryEdit

Democratic Party debates
First Democratic debates
HostNBC and MSNBC
Date(s)June 26, 2019
June 27, 2019
VenueArsht Center
LocationMiami, Florida
Lead moderatorLester Holt
Other moderatorsSavannah Guthrie
Chuck Todd
Rachel Maddow
Jose Diaz-Balart


The Democratic Party's first presidential debates ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election were held on June 26, 2019 and June 27, 2019, in Miami, Florida.

Starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, they aired on NBC and were broadcast on radio by Westwood One. Lester Holt was the lead moderator of the debates, joined by Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and Jose Diaz-Balart.

The DNC drew lots among the 20 qualified candidates for the first debate to determine whether they should debate on the first night (June 26) or second night (June 27) at the NBC News headquarters (30 Rockefeller Plaza) in New York City on June 14. The qualified candidates or their representatives were present and involved at the drawing event,[55] which was not televised.[56]

The debates took place at the Arsht Center in Miami, Florida. The first night of the debate was marked by a noted dust-up between O'Rourke and Castro on the subject of immigration, which Castro was widely perceived to have won, while Warren met expectations as a top-tier candidate. In addition, Booker and Klobuchar each had their moment in the spotlight, Klobuchar in particular being noted for her one-liners.[57][58] Gabbard took on Ryan over continuing the US presence in Afghanistan.[59] Booker, Castro, and O'Rourke all spoke Spanish at different times during the debate, which received mixed reception and was met with jokes from second-night competitors Williamson and Yang on Twitter.[60][61] On night two, Harris and Biden clashed over Biden's past comments about working with segregationist senators and his stance on desegregation busing.[62]

Night one candidates
Candidates
drawn for the
June 26 debate
Drawing tier[a] Polling
criterion
result[35]
Airtime (min.)[63]
Warren 1 16.3% (10 polls) 9.3
O'Rourke 1 10.3% (10 polls) 10.3
Booker 1 4.0% (10 polls) 10.9
Klobuchar 1 3.7% (10 polls) 8.5
Castro 1 2.0% (8 polls) 8.8
Gabbard 2 1.3% (8 polls) 6.6
Ryan 2 1.3% (9 polls) 7.7
Inslee 2 1% (7 polls) 5.0
de Blasio 2 1% (3 polls) 5.6
Delaney 2 1% (3 polls) 6.6
Average 4.2% 7.9
Night two candidates
Candidates
drawn for the
June 27 debate
Drawing tier[b] Polling
criterion
result[35]
Airtime (min.)[63]
Biden 1 37.7% (10 polls) 13.6
Sanders 1 26.7% (10 polls) 11.0
Buttigieg 1 13% (10 polls) 10.5
Harris 1 11% (10 polls) 11.9
Yang 2 1.7% (10 polls) 3.0
Gillibrand 2 1.3% (6 polls) 7.5
Hickenlooper 2 1.3% (5 polls) 5.2
Bennet 2 1% (3 polls) 8.1
Williamson 2 1%, (4 polls) 5.0
Swalwell 2 1% (3 polls) 4.3
Average 9.6% 8.0

Second debates (July 30–31, 2019)Edit

QualificationEdit

The criteria for qualifying for the second debates was the same as for the first debates.[64] To qualify for the second debates, debate entrants had to, at minimum, comply with one of the two below listed criteria.[26] Mike Gravel was not invited to the debate, since he only met the donor threshold, which was given a lesser weight than the polling threshold.[65] The deadline for candidates to meet either of the below criteria was July 16.[66]

  Withdrawn candidate

SummaryEdit

Democratic Party debates
Second Democratic debates
HostCNN
Date(s)July 30, 2019
July 31, 2019
VenueFox Theatre
LocationDetroit, Michigan
Lead moderatorJake Tapper
Other moderatorsDana Bash
Don Lemon


The Democratic Party's second presidential debates ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election were held on July 30, 2019 and July 31, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan.

Starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, they aired on CNN and were broadcast on radio by Westwood One. Jake Tapper was the lead moderator of the debates, joined by Dana Bash and Don Lemon.

The drawing of lots among the 20 invited candidates to determine when they will debate was televised in prime time on July 18.[70] There were three tiers of candidates that were split between two nights, as opposed to the two tiers used in the first debates.[71]

In total, 21 candidates qualified for the second debate. The 14 candidates who met both criteria (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, O'Rourke, Booker, Klobuchar, Castro, Yang, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Inslee, and Williamson) and the six candidates who met the polling criterion only (Ryan, Hickenlooper, Delaney, de Blasio, Bennet, and Bullock) were invited to participate in the debate. Gravel, the one candidate to qualify by the donor criterion only, was not invited because of the 20-candidate limit and the polling criterion's precedence over the donor criterion as mandated by the DNC. The set of participants for the second debate was identical to the first debates with one exception: Bullock replaced Swalwell, who suspended his campaign between the first and second debates.[65]

The debate on July 30 featured Bullock, Buttigieg, Delaney, Hickenlooper, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Ryan, Sanders, Warren and Williamson, while the debate on July 31 featured Bennet, Biden, Booker, Castro, de Blasio, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Harris, Inslee and Yang.[25][72] Both debates took place at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan.

The overarching theme on the first night was a clash between moderates and progressives on a variety of issues, ranging from Medicare for All to electability.[73] CNN received criticism for allegedly inciting conflicts between candidates and making questions from Republican talking points, as well as enforcing the time limits too strictly.[74] The second night saw significant discussion centered on candidates' differing health care plans. Additionally, Gabbard went on the offensive against Harris.[75][76]

Night one candidates
Candidates
drawn for the
July 30 debate
Drawing tier[c] Polling
criterion
result[35]
Airtime (min.)[63]
Sanders 1 27% (19 polls) 17.6
Warren 1 19% (19 polls) 17.9
Buttigieg 2 13.3% (19 polls) 14.4
O'Rourke 2 10.3% (18 polls) 10.9
Klobuchar 2 4% (16 polls) 10.7
Hickenlooper 3 1.3% (9 polls) 8.8
Ryan 3 1.3% (9 polls) 9.8
Delaney 3 1.3% (8 polls) 10.3
Williamson 3 1% (8 polls) 8.9
Bullock 3 1% (4 polls) 10.8
Average 8% 12.0
Night two candidates
Candidates
drawn for the
July 31 debate
Drawing tier[d] Polling
criterion
result[35]
Airtime (min.)[63]
Biden 1 40.7% (19 polls) 21.2
Harris 1 17.7% (19 polls) 17.7
Booker 2 4.3% (19 polls) 12.8
Castro 2 2.7% (12 polls) 10.5
Yang 2 2% (18 polls) 8.7
Gabbard 3 1.3% (12 polls) 10.6
Gillibrand 3 1.3% (10 polls) 11.6
Inslee 3 1% (9 polls) 10.7
Bennet 3 1% (7 polls) 10.6
de Blasio 3 1% (4 polls) 9.7
Average 7.3% 12.4

ParticipationEdit

Each of the first two debates took place during two consecutive nights, with a maximum of 10 candidates per night. The DNC, at a public event before each debate, drew lots among the qualified candidates to determine whether they shall debate on the first or second night.[77][78] This drawing procedure was designed to avoid the appearance of a "kiddie table" debate where the lowest polling candidates were grouped together with no leading candidates, which happened during the 2016 Republican Party presidential debates.[79]

Third debate (September 12, 2019)Edit

QualificationEdit

The third debate took place at the Health and Physical Education Arena on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. For participation in the third debate, candidates were required to meet both polling and fundraising criteria by August 28 (in comparison to the first and second debates, where only one criterion was necessary). Qualifying polls had to be released between June 28 and August 28.[80] Five candidates (Gravel, Hickenlooper, Inslee, Moulton, and Gillibrand) suspended their campaigns between the second and third debates.

On August 23, the Gabbard campaign criticized the DNC's purported lack of transparency in the process of selecting organizations/institutions to sponsor polls and how better-ranked polls were excluded. The campaign also highlighted the stark reduction in poll frequency, especially in early primary states[81], after the second debate compared to after the first debate and how they believed that that was “particularly harmful” to candidates with lower name recognition.[82] The campaigns of Marianne Williamson,[83] Tom Steyer,[84] and Michael Bennet[85][86] also requested that the DNC increase the number of certified polls by expanding the list of certified poll sponsoring organizations.

  Withdrawn candidate

SummaryEdit

Democratic Party debates
Third Democratic debate
HostABC News
Univision
Date(s)September 12, 2019
VenueTexas Southern University
LocationHouston, Texas
Lead moderatorGeorge Stephanopoulos
Other moderatorsDavid Muir
Linsey Davis
Jorge Ramos


The Democratic Party's third presidential debate ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election took place on September 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas.

It aired on ABC News and Univision. George Stephanopoulos was the lead moderator of the debate, joined by David Muir, Linsey Davis, and Jorge Ramos.[104]

The candidates who qualified for the third debate were Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren, and Yang.[15]

Candidates Airtime (min.)[105]
Biden 17.4
Warren 16.5
Booker 14.7
Sanders 14.1
Harris 13.7
Buttigieg 11.4
Castro 11.0
Klobuchar 10.4
O'Rourke 9.3
Yang 7.9
Average 12.6

Fourth debate (October 15, 2019)Edit

QualificationEdit

A memo released by the DNC on August 5 indicated that the qualification period for the fourth debate in October started on June 28, which was the same day that qualification began for the third debate (in effect allowing all candidates who qualified for the third debate to automatically qualify for the fourth debate). This gave candidates who did not qualify for the September debate more time to qualify for the October debate.[106] Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren, and Yang qualified before August 22,[107] while Steyer and Gabbard qualified on September 8[108] and September 24 respectively.[109] The qualification deadline for the fourth debate was October 1, 2019.[110] One candidate (de Blasio) suspended his campaign between the third and fourth debates.[111]

  Withdrawn candidate

SummaryEdit

Democratic Party debates
Fourth Democratic debate
HostCNN
The New York Times
Date(s)October 15, 2019
VenueOtterbein University
LocationWesterville, Ohio
Lead moderatorAnderson Cooper
Other moderatorsErin Burnett
Marc Lacey


The Democratic Party's fourth presidential debate was held on Tuesday October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio,[112] from 8 to 11 p.m. EDT.[113] On September 27, the DNC announced that the debate would include all 12 candidates on one night, although some had assumed it would take place on two nights since it had more than 10 participants. From left to right, the candidates were: Gabbard (who missed the previous debate), Steyer (in his first debate), Booker, Harris, Sanders, Biden and Warren (who shared center stage), Buttigieg, Yang, O'Rourke, Klobuchar, and Castro. Podium order for the debate was determined based on an average of the 10 most recently released qualifying polls. CNN anchors Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper and New York Times national editor Marc Lacey served as the debate moderators.[114]

The debate aired exclusively on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español, and was streamed on CNN.com's homepage and NYTimes.com's homepage. The debate also streamed live on the following Facebook Pages: CNN, CNN International, CNN Politics, CNN Replay, AC360 and Erin Burnett OutFront.

In addition, the debate was available across mobile devices via CNN's and New York Times' apps for iOS and Android, via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV, SiriusXM Channels 116, 454 and 795, the Westwood One Radio Network and National Public Radio.[115]

Candidates Airtime (min.)[116]
Warren 22.8
Biden 16.7
Klobuchar 13.3
O'Rourke 13.2
Sanders 13.1
Buttigieg 13.0
Harris 12.4
Booker 11.7
Yang 8.5
Castro 8.4
Gabbard 8.4
Steyer 7.2
Average 12.4

Fifth debate (November 20, 2019)Edit

Democratic Party debates
Fifth Democratic debate
HostMSNBC
The Washington Post
Date(s)November 20, 2019
LocationGeorgia

The fifth debate will be held on Wednesday November 20, 2019 in Georgia.[117][118]

QualificationEdit

A memo released by the DNC on September 23 indicated that the qualification period for the November debate started on September 13, and will end on November 13. To qualify in terms of polling, candidates must reach 3 percent or more in four polls approved by the DNC. Alternatively, reaching 5 percent or more in two DNC-approved polls conducted in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina will also be accepted as meeting the polling threshold. To qualify in terms of donors, candidates must receive donations from 165,000 unique donors with 600 unique donors in 20 different states, territories or the District of Columbia.[119]

Qualified candidates for the fifth debate
Candidate Met donor criterion
Met four-poll criterion
(as of October 13)[121]
Met early state polling criterion
(as of October 13)[121]
Qualified for debate Additional
Ref(s)
Sanders Yes
(by February 20)
Yes
(14 qualifying polls)[e]
Yes
(10 qualifying polls)
Yes [90][89][122]
Biden Yes
(by July 3)
Yes
(14 qualifying polls)[f]
Yes
(10 qualifying polls)
Yes [88][89]
Warren Yes
(by July 8)
Yes
(14 qualifying polls)[g]
Yes
(10 qualifying polls)
Yes [90][89]
Harris Yes
(by July 5)
Yes
(14 qualifying polls)[h]
Yes
(5 qualifying polls)
Yes [90][89]
Buttigieg Yes
(by July 1)
Yes
(13 qualifying polls)[i]
Yes
(4 qualifying polls)
Yes [90][89]
Steyer Yes
(by September 23)
Yes
(6 qualifying polls)[j]
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Yes [96][108]
Yang Yes
(before August 15)
Yes
(5 qualifying polls)[k]
Pending
(1 qualifying poll)
Yes [94][123]
Booker Yes
(by September 29)
Yes
(5 qualifying polls)[l]
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Yes [91][89][124]
O'Rourke Yes
(before June 30)
Pending
(1 qualifying poll)[m]
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [125][89]
Klobuchar Yes
(by September 23)
Pending
(1 qualifying poll)[n]
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [93]
Castro Yes
(by September 23)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [95][89][126]
Gabbard Yes
(by August 26)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [127][128]
Williamson Pending
(~140,000 donors on October 4)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [129]
Bennet Pending
(~28,000 donors on June 30)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [90][100]
Bullock Pending
(~17,000 donors on June 30)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [90][100]
Ryan Pending
(~13,000 donors on July 12)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [101]
Delaney Pending
(~8,000 donors on June 30)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [90][100]
Messam Pending Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending [90]
Sestak Pending Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending
(0 qualifying polls)
Pending

Later debatesEdit

A monthly debate schedule will continue through January 2020. Starting in February, they will occur more frequently and continue until April 2020.[1]

ForumsEdit

In addition to the party-sponsored debates, many private organizations are hosting forums focusing on select issues and candidates. Not all of them are documented, but these are some of the major ones that multiple candidates attended.

  Past forums
# Name Issues Date Place Sponsors Ref
1 Heartland Forum Economic issues affecting rural Americans March 30, 2019 Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, IA Open Markets Institute Action, HuffPost, Storm Lake Times, Iowa Farmers Union [130][131]
2 We the People Membership Summit Democracy reform April 1, 2019 Warner Theatre, Washington, DC CPD Action, CWA, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, SEIU, SEIU 32BJ, Sierra Club [132][133]
3 She the People Presidential Forum Issues affecting women of color April 24, 2019 Texas Southern University, Houston, TX She the People [134][135]
4 National Forum on Wages and Working People Economic issues affecting low-income Americans April 27, 2019 Enclave, Las Vegas, NV SEIU, Center for American Progress Action Fund [136][137]
5 Unity and Freedom Forum Immigration reform and issues affecting Hispanic and Latino Americans May 31, 2019 Hilton Pasadena, Pasadena, CA FIRM Action, Community Change Action, CHIRLA Action Fund [138][139]
6 Big Ideas Forum Ideas that can inspire voters and transform the country June 1, 2019 Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA MoveOn [140][141]
7 Presidential Candidates Forum Expanding economic opportunity for Black Americans June 15, 2019[note 1] Charleston Music Hall, Charleston, SC Black Economic Alliance [143][142]

[144]

8 Poor People's Campaign Presidential Forum Issues affecting low-income Americans June 17, 2019 Trinity Washington University, Washington, DC Poor People's Campaign [145][146]
9 NALEO Presidential Candidate Forum Issues affecting Hispanic and Latino Americans June 21, 2019 Telemundo Center, Miami, FL NALEO [147][148]
10 South Carolina Democratic Party Convention Various issues June 22, 2019 Columbia Convention Center, Columbia, SC South Carolina Democratic Party [149][150]
11 We Decide: 2020 Election Membership Forum Reproductive health care and reproductive rights June 22, 2019 University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC Planned Parenthood Action Fund [151][152]
12 Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum Issues affecting education and public schools July 5, 2019 George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX National Education Association [153][154]
13 LULAC Presidential Candidates Forum Issues affecting Hispanic and Latino Americans July 11, 2019 Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee, WI League of United Latin American Citizens, Univision [155][156]
14 Netroots Nation Progressive issues and political organizing July 11–13, 2019 Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA Netroots Foundation [157][158]
15 Iowa Presidential Candidate Forums Issues affecting older voters in Iowa July 15–20, 2019 Des Moines, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, and Council Bluffs, IA AARP, The Des Moines Register [159]
16 2020 Presidential Candidates Forum Various issues July 24, 2019 Detroit, MI NAACP [160]
17 Public Service Forum Public service, trade unions, labor rights, and economy Aug. 3, 2019 UNLV, Paradise, NV AFSCME, HuffPost, The Nevada Independent [161]
18 Gun Sense Forum Gun violence Aug. 10, 2019 Des Moines, IA Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action [162]
19 Des Moines Register Political Soapbox 20-minute speeches on their political platforms Aug. 8–17, 2019 Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, IA The Des Moines Register [163]
20 Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum Issues affecting Native Americans Aug. 19–20, 2019 Orpheum Theatre, Sioux City, IA Four Directions, Native Organizers Alliance, NCAI, NARF, Coalition of Large Tribes, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association [164]
21 Climate Crisis Townhall Global warming Sept. 4, 2019 New York, NY CNN [165]
22 New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention Various issues Sept. 7, 2019 Southern New Hampshire University Arena, Manchester New Hampshire Democratic Party [166]
23 Asian American Pacific Islanders Progressive Democratic Presidential Forum Issues affecting Asian Pacific Americans Sept. 8, 2019 Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA AAPI Victory Fund, Asian Americans Rising [167][168]

[169]

24 Workers’ Presidential Summit Issues affecting labor unions and union workers Sept. 17, 2019 Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia Philadelphia Council AFL–CIO [170]
25 Climate Forum Climate change Sept. 19–20, 2019 Gaston Hall, Georgetown University, Washington, DC MSNBC, Georgetown University, Our Daily Planet [171]
26 LGBTQ Forum LGBTQ rights Sept. 20, 2019 Sinclair Auditorium, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA One Iowa, The Advocate, GLAAD [172]
27 People's Presidential Forum Iowa Healthcare, green energy, education Sept. 21, 2019 Iowa Events Center, Des Moines, IA Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, People's Action [173]
28 Youth Forum Students and youth issues Sept. 22, 2019 Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, IA Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines Register [174]
29 Gun Safety Forum Gun violence Oct. 2, 2019 Las Vegas, NV Giffords, March For Our Lives [175]
30 LGBTQ Town Hall LGBTQ rights Oct. 10, 2019 The Novo, Los Angeles, CA Human Rights Campaign, UCLA [176][177]
31 People's Presidential Forum Michigan Economic, immigrant, and racial justice Oct. 20, 2019 TCF Center, Detroit, MI Michigan United, National Partnership for New Americans, FIRM Action [173]
32 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum Criminal justice reform, racial justice Oct. 25–27, 2019 Benedict College, Columbia, SC 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, Benedict College [178]
33 People's Presidential Forum Nevada Criminal Justice Reform, Climate Change, Immigration, Tribal Soverignty Oct. 26, 2019 East Las Vegas Community Center,
Las Vegas, NV
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action, People's Action [173]
34 California Democratic Party Fall Endorsing Convention Forum TBD/Latino issues Nov. 16, 2019 Long Beach Arena,
Long Beach, CA
California Democratic Party, Univision [179]
TBD Youth Town Hall Issues affecting children and adolescents TBD Flint, MI Mari Copeny, NAACP, Sunrise Movement, Dream Defenders, United We Dream, March for Our Lives [180]

Forum participationEdit

Ojeda withdrew from the race before the first forum.

Candidate

 P  Present  I  Invited  N  Not invited  A  Absent  Out  Not yet entered race  W  Withdrawn

1
[131]
2
[133]
3
[135]
4
[137]
5
[139]
6
[141]
7
[142]
8
[146]
9
[147]
10
[149]
11
[152]
12
[154]
13
[155]
14
[157]
15
[159]
16[160]
[note 2]
17
[161]
18
[162]
19[163]
[note 3]
20[164]
[note 6]
Bennet Out A A A P A P P A A A P A P P P A
Biden Out A A A A P A P P P A A P P P P P A
Booker A P P A A P P A A P P A A A P P P P P A
Bullock Out A A A A A A A A A A P A P P P P
Buttigieg Out A A A A P A P P P A A A P P P P P A
Castro P P P P P P A A P P P P P P P P P P P P
de Blasio Out A A A A A P P P A A A A P P P P
Delaney P A A A A A A A A P P A A A P A P P P P
Gabbard A A P A A A A A A P A A A A P A P P P A
Gillibrand A P A A A P A A A P P A A P P A A P P A
Gravel Out A A A A A A A A A A A A N A A W
Harris A A P P P P A P A P P P A A P P P P P P
Hickenlooper A A A P A A A A P P P A A A P A N P P W
Inslee A P A A P A A A A P P P A P N A P P P A
Klobuchar P P P P A P A A P P P P A A P P P P P P
Messam A A A A A A A P A A A A A A N A N N A A
Moulton Out A A A A A A A P P A A A N A P P P A
O'Rourke A P P P A P P A P P P P P A P P P P A A
Ryan P[note 7] Out A A A A A A A P P P A A A A P P P A
Sanders A P P A P P A P P P P P P A P P P P P P
Sestak Out A A A N A N P P P
Steyer Out A A N A P P P A
Swalwell Out A A A A A P P P P A W
Warren P P P P A P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P
Williamson A A A A A A A P A P P A A A P A P N P P
Yang A A A A A A A P A P P A A A P A N P P A

Gillibrand, Inslee and Moulton withdrew from the race before the 21st forum.

Candidate

 P  Present  I  Invited  N  Not invited  A  Absent  Out  Not yet entered race  W  Withdrawn

21
[165]
22
[166]
23
[169]
24
[170]
25[171]
[note 8]
26[172]
[note 9]
27
[173]
28
[174]
29
[175]
30
[177]
31
[173]
32
[178]
33
[173]
34
[179]
Bennet N P A A P A N P N N TBA
Biden P P A P A P N A P P
Booker P P A A P P N A P P
Bullock N P A A P A N A N N
Buttigieg P P A A P P P A P P
Castro P P A A P P P A P P
de Blasio N P A P A W
Delaney N P A A P A N A N N TBA
Gabbard N P P A A P N P N A
Harris P P A A A P A A P P
Klobuchar P P A P A P N A P P
Messam N A A A A A N A N N
O'Rourke P P A A A A N A P P
Ryan N P A A P A N A N N
Sanders P P A P P A P P A A
Sestak N P A A A P N P N N
Steyer N P P P P A N P N P
Warren P P A A A P P A P P
Williamson N P A A P P N A N N
Yang P P P P P A N P P A

Incidents and controversyEdit

Climate change debateEdit

On April 22, 2019, Jay Inslee proposed that the DNC dedicate one of its presidential debates to climate change,[181] giving candidates a chance to elaborate in full detail on how they intend to implement climate action and achieve the goals presented by the Green New Deal (a progressive climate resolution proposed by Democratic members of congress in the House).[182] Recent polls of both Democratic voters and the electorate in general had identified this topic to be of the highest importance (for example, a CNN poll[183] found 80% of Democrats wanted presidential candidates to make climate change a top priority, and a Morning Consult poll[184] of registered voters nationwide found that 63% said it's either important or a top priority for Congress to pass a bill to address climate change). Despite support from seven other candidates (Sanders, Warren, Gillibrand, Castro, Bennet, Delaney[185] and Moulton[186]), several progressive and environmental groups (Sierra Club, CREDO Action, Sunrise Movement, Friends of the Earth Action, Public Citizen, 350 Action, MoveOn, Youth Climate Strike), at least two dozen Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate,[182] and over 52,000 signatories of a petition,[187] the DNC turned down the idea of limiting some of their debates to only one debate topic.[188][2] On June 29, 2019, however, the DNC referred to a committee a proposal "calling for an official debate on climate change".[189] On August 22, the resolutions committee voted to reject the proposal.[190]

Bullock qualification for first debateEdit

After Bullock received 1% in an open-ended ABC News/Washington Post poll, controversy arose as the DNC’s official qualification rules, published and updated on February 14 and May 9 respectively, [26] did not state whether open-ended polls would count towards qualification. The DNC later stated during rule guidance given on June 10 and 11,[66] that "polls based on open-ended questions will not be considered". This additional rule was initially orally communicated between DNC chairman Tom Perez and the Bullock campaign in March 2019, and was only publicly confirmed via a statement to a Politico reporter on June 6,[29] but was never confirmed in writing by any primary DNC sources ahead of the qualification deadline.[191]

On June 12, the Bullock campaign wrote a certification letter to the DNC claiming that Bullock qualified for participation in the first debate through the polling criteria (as they believed an open-ended poll from ABC News/Washington Post should be counted as a third qualifying poll - according to the official published rules).[192] Had Bullock been ultimately determined to have qualified by the DNC, then 21 total candidates would have qualified by the polling criteria, which would have triggered the tiebreak rules, leading to Bullock and Swalwell being tied equally for the last 20th spot with 1% as the highest polling average and three polls with a result at minimum 1%. In that scenario, the DNC would either have had to accept inviting 21 candidates, or invent a supplementing final tiebreak rule (for example, drawing lots for the last spot, or deciding the further tie by their number of unique donors).[191] Ultimately, Bullock was determined not to have qualified for the first debate,[24] though he qualified for the second debate.[68]

Big Ideas Forum stage invasionEdit

On June 1 during the Big Ideas Forum, a 24-year-old animal rights activist named Aidan Cook stole Sen. Kamala Harris's microphone while she answered a question about equal pay.[193] Security officials and Harris's husband removed Cook from the stage. After the incident, Sen. Cory Booker told CNN he watched the video and was upset with the interference saying, "He crossed a line, this election's going to go on and I'm really hoping that we see Secret Service and others begin to step in because that really could have been a horrifying moment. Kamala's like a sister to me, I love her and that makes me very upset."

Microphone complaints in first debateEdit

Yang, Williamson, and Swalwell complained of microphone problems not allowing them to speak unless called upon when other candidates seemed to be able to freely interject at all times, though NBC/MSNBC denied the claim.[194] The issues spurred frustration from Yang supporters and prompted #LetYangSpeak to trend on Twitter much of the following day.[195]

Debate protestsEdit

In both the second and third debates, protestors began chanting and interrupting the debate until they were removed from the venue. On the second night of the second debate, protesters motivated by the death of Eric Garner and the continued employment of Staten Island police officer Daniel Pantaleo shouted during de Blasio's opening remarks, and then entirely halted Booker's, disrupting the debate for nearly 30 seconds.[196] During the closing statements for September 12, in which candidates were asked to recall moments of resilience after a professional setback, protesters interrupted Joe Biden for approximately two minutes. According to Jess Davidson, they shouted "we are DACA recipients; our lives are at risk!"[197] The Trump campaign accused the protesters of having insensitive timing.[198]

Yang qualification for third debateEdit

After Andrew Yang had received what he considered to be his fourth qualifying poll, the DNC revealed that qualifying polls conducted by different organizations would not be counted separately if they were sponsored by the same DNC-approved sponsor. The ruling was controversially disclosed by the DNC on July 30, less than one day after Andrew Yang had obtained 2% in four polls, rather than on July 19 when the second of these polls had been completed.[199] In spite of this, Yang qualified for the third debate.[15]

Gabbard disputes with DNCEdit

Throughout the 2020 Democratic primaries, Gabbard and her campaign were involved in numerous controversies regarding both an alleged lack of transparency and alleged rigging by the DNC.

Pollster selection and poll frequency controversyEdit

On August 23, Gabbard's campaign protested the failure of the DNC to release "their criteria for selecting the 16 polling organizations they deem 'certified’" for qualifying candidates for the third debate and said that "For the sake of democracy, those decisions must be made openly, with clear and consistent standards and a sufficient window of opportunity for candidates to demonstrate genuine grassroots momentum and enthusiasm."[200] In the campaign's statement, they listed 26 polls where Gabbard reached the 2% threshold and alleged that certain "DNC-certified" polls were rated lower than non-certified polls by organizations such as the American Research Group and FiveThirtyEight, and questioned why only four qualifying polls were released following the second debate, while fourteen were released following the first debate; and why only two polls were released in the first two weeks after Gabbard's "break-out appearance" in the second debate while six polls were released in the first two weeks after the first debate.[82][201] The campaign further argued that the lack of polling was “particularly harmful to candidates with lower name-recognition.”[82] They called on the DNC to revise the set of polls it considers for qualifying, citing "numerous irregularities in the selection and timing of those polls," and also asked them "to hold true to their promise and make adjustments to the process now to ensure transparency and fairness."[202][203][204][205]

The Williamson campaign has also criticized the lack of polling since July.[204]

Craig Hughes, adviser to the Bennet campaign, wrote to DNC Chairman Tom Perez requesting clarification on the process of how qualifications were set and what those would be for the remaining debates. "To date, the DNC has not provided information on how or why its unprecedented debate qualification requirements were set nor what the criteria will be for the eight future debates."[206] Steyer has also criticized the strict rules for poll inclusion.[207][208]

FiveThirtyEight analyzed which candidates would qualify for the third debates if changes to the DNC's rule set were made. If all polls would be considered regardless of quality, Gabbard would qualify with 9 polls and Tom Steyer with 7 polls.[209]

Qualifying polls for October debateEdit

On September 8, a Washington Post/ABC poll was released. An initial report from ABC claimed that Gabbard had not received the 2% necessary for the poll to count as a qualifying poll, but the Gabbard campaign announced that she had indeed received the 2% necessary for the poll to count as a qualifying poll, citing the Washington Post figures directly.[210][211] To further complicate matters, FiveThirtyEight claimed that it had received confirmation from the DNC that the poll did not count for Gabbard but the Gabbard campaign countered by stating that no official DNC ruling had been stated and that FiveThirtyEight did not name their source from the DNC.[212][213][214] Presently, no official DNC ruling has been made, but it is important to note that previously DNC policy has been passed down orally, and only confirmed later by statements to the press, without any official ruling, as was done with the Bullock controversy above.

The confusion stems from the fact that the poll data was presented with two columns, one of "all" adults, and one of "registered" voters, even though the question was only asked to those who "leaned" toward the Democratic party. Gabbard had 1% in the "all" column and 2% in the "registered" column. An identical DNC approved poll conducted on the 1st of July was also located in the data, but it is unclear which category was used for the qualification for the debates, as no candidate had 2% in one category and 1% in the other, although FiveThirtyEight claims the above DNC source told them the sample for the "debate qualification will be the adult sample", and Politico used the "registered" column for their data compilation.[215][87] Gabbard later reached 2% in two other qualifying polls, allowing her to qualify for the fourth debate.[109]

Threatened boycottEdit

On October 10, Gabbard threatened to boycott the fourth debate, saying that she believed the DNC and the media were rigging the election. [216] On October 14, Gabbard announced that she would be attending the debate.[217]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Air date: 10:00 A.M. ET/9:00 A.M. CT June 16, 2019 on BET.[142]
  2. ^ This forum also featured Bill Weld, a Republican candidate for president.
  3. ^ This forum also featured Bill Weld, a Republican candidate for president. Donald Trump was invited, but absent.
  4. ^ Appeared and spoke on Tuesday, August 20, 2019
  5. ^ [1] Cory Booker and Bill Weld declined to attend.
  6. ^ Independent candidate Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation, also attended.[note 4] Bill Weld and Donald Trump were invited, but the latter was absent, and the former declined to attend.[note 5]
  7. ^ Although Ryan was not a formal candidate at the time, he participated in the Heartland forum.
  8. ^ Bill Weld and Donald Trump were also invited, and the former attended on September 20.
  9. ^ Republican candidates Bill Weld, Donald Trump, Joe Walsh and Mark Sanford were also invited. All four were absent.

DrawingsEdit

  1. ^ The drawing of lots happened from two tier groups (with the top tier comprising all qualified candidates with a polling average of over 2%, and the other tier comprising the rest), so that each tier was evenly split between each of the two debate nights.[55]
  2. ^ The drawing of lots happened from two tier groups (with the top tier comprising all qualified candidates with a polling average of over 2%, and the other tier comprising the rest), so that each tier was evenly split between each of the two debate nights.[55]
  3. ^ The drawing of lots happened from three tier groups (with the top tier comprising all qualified candidates with a polling average of over 15%), so that each tier was evenly split between each of the two debate nights.
  4. ^ The drawing of lots happened from three tier groups (with the top tier comprising all qualified candidates with a polling average of over 15%), so that each tier was evenly split between each of the two debate nights.
  5. ^ 4 from national (7 including pollster repeats); 10 from early states
  6. ^ 4 from national (7 including pollster repeats); 10 from early states
  7. ^ 4 from national (7 including pollster repeats); 10 from early states
  8. ^ 4 from national (7 including pollster repeats); 10 from early states
  9. ^ 4 from national (7 including pollster repeats); 9 from early states
  10. ^ 6 from early states
  11. ^ 2 from national; 3 from early states
  12. ^ 1 from national; 4 from early states
  13. ^ 1 from national (2 including pollster repeats)
  14. ^ 1 from early states

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