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Thursday, August 29th, 2019

One night only! Lineup announced for third 2020 Democratic debate in Houston, Texas

This morning, ABC News (the Democratic National Committee’s media partner for the third officially-sanctioned candidates debate) confirmed that just ten candidates had qualified for the stage in Houston, which means that that the debate will only take place on one night instead of two like in the last rounds.

The debate is set for Thursday, September 12th, 2019 from 5 PM to 8 PM Pacific. Texas Southern University is the host venue.

The qualifying candidates are:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • New Jersey U.S. Senator Cory Booker
  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
  • California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
  • Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • Former Texas U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke
  • Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

The candidates who didn’t make it, but previously qualified are:

  • Montana Governor Steve Bullock
  • Ohio U.S. Representative Tim Ryan
  • Hawaii U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard
  • Author Marianne Williamson
  • Former U.S. Representative John Delaney
  • Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

Former candidates who exited the race in advance of not qualifying are:

  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee
  • New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Massachusetts U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (never qualified)
  • Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
  • California U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell

Billionaire and late entrant Tom Steyer, meanwhile, also didn’t make the cut, although he may qualify for the next debate in October.

Although there’s no second night this time, the first and only night will be a long one, as ABC is planning a three hour debate lasting from 5 to 8 PM Pacific.

There will be four moderators, in keeping with the recent trend of having a large number of television personalities share moderation duties:

  • George Stephanopoulos, Chief Anchor, ABC News
  • David Muir, Anchor of World News Tonight
  • Linsey Davis, ABC News Correspondent
  • Jorge Ramos of Univision

Additionally, ABC plans to have pretty much all of its star pundits and reporters in Houston during the week of the debate. The ABC pundit roster (which is very heavy on neoliberals) includes buckraker Cokie Roberts and public opinion analyst Nate Silver plus Heidi Heitkamp, Rahm Emanuel, and Chris Christie.

There will be a one-hour “preshow” starting at 4 PM on the day of the debate and there will be post-debate coverage and analysis after it is over for anyone who wants to be glued to their television set for more than three hours.

With regards to format, ABC says there will be opening statements but no closing statements. The network did not reveal its plans for addressing often neglected topics like the climate crisis or affordable housing.

You’ve got lots of options for tuning in:

The ABC News Democratic Debate will air live nationally on the ABC Television Network and Univision (with a Spanish translation) and locally on KTRK-TV. ABC News will livestream the debate on ABC News Live – the network’s 24/7 breaking news and live events streaming channel – on Roku, Hulu, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube, Apple News, Facebook, Twitter, and the ABC News, Good Morning America and FiveThirtyEight websites and mobile phone apps. Univision News will also livestream the debate on all of its digital platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Periscope.

NPI will bring you live analysis and reaction on debate night from 5 PM to 8 PM Pacific. Join us — at least during the commercial breaks! — if you’d like to see the debate broken down from a linguistics and framing perspective.

POSTSCRIPT: ABC News has released the podium order for the debate. Here are some impressions from our Presidential Electoral Analyst, Ruairi Vaughan.

Joe Biden is sandwiched by Warren and Sanders

Warren and Sanders got a real boost by working together in the last debate against neoliberal candidates, they are likely to bring that teamwork to bear against Biden, who they both need to knock down in the polls.

Biden has not faced Warren in a debate so far — they’ve been on stage different nights. Biden could be at a real disadvantage if he isn’t prepared to take her on, and his team will have a hard time working out how to deal with her.

Fewer neoliberals in this debate

The only other openly partial progressive candidate besides Biden is Amy Klobuchar. In the last debate, she didn’t have the fighting spirit of a Delaney or a Bullock (she opted for a more conciliatory tone), so it seems unlikely she would rush to Biden’s aid when he gets criticized, at least not in a combative way.

Texans together

Beto O’Rourke and Castro will be next to each other – can we expect another showdown in Spanish, like in the first debate?

The highest-polling candidates are also the oldest

ABC has put the oldest candidates at the center of the stage (because they are the highest polling candidates). This could create a strange pile-on against the center dynamic if the candidates are asked about age… Biden, Warren and Sanders might even have the opportunity to call out ageism together.

Will Kamala Harris rebound?

Kamala Harris got high marks for her first debate performance in June, but in July, she came across much more uneven. She faced the full wrath of Biden, plus attacks from neoliberal candidates, plus an unexpected swipe from Tulsi Gabbard.

This time, Biden will likely have his hands full tussling with Warren and Sanders, there aren’t any other combative neoliberals, and Gabbard isn’t in this debate.

That could create a favorable dynamic for Harris.

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One Comment

  1. It sounds like they are getting to the “meat and potatoes” of the candidates. I see a much better debate and the contenders surviving while more pretenders leave the field.

    # by Mike Barer :: August 29th, 2019 at 8:35 PM

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