Election Special: Democrats take center stage
The first pair of Democratic presidential primary debates will be held in prime time over the next two nights in Miami. Much like the Republican’s bloated primary field with 17 declared candidates in 2016, the Democrats boast a record-breaking 24 candidates who have announced their intention to run in 2020, the most since the current election system was established in 1972. But only nine of these Democratic candidates have received more than 1% of the vote in early polling, although the top six are all leading President Trump in a recent head-to-head Quinnipiac poll.
These first two debates, to be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo and anchored by Savanah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, will feature 10 candidates each night. To earn a spot on the Miami stage and a second debate to be hosted by CNN in Detroit on July 30-31, candidates must have collected at least 65,000 donors or registered support of at least 1% in three separate polls. As a result, four candidates will not participate as they failed to meet the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) donor or polling requirements.
A random draw determined which of the 20 candidates will appear on which night, putting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a somewhat unique situation as the only candidate polling in the top five to appear on the first night. It will be interesting to see if any of the lesser candidates rip a page from then-candidate Trump’s 2016 playbook and try to make a name for themselves by aggressively attacking her. The second night will be the heavyweight match, with top candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg squaring off.
To qualify for the Democrats’ third set of debates, to be hosted by ABC News on Sept. 12-13, the DNC has doubled the donor and polling requirements. So this initial pool of 24 candidates likely will be winnowed by two-thirds by Labor Day, creating a sense of urgency for a second-tier candidate to come out swinging in Miami.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), 70, polling at 12.8% in Real Clear Politics: The former Harvard Law professor favors a 2% annual wealth tax, universal child care, breaking up big tech, and student-debt cancelation, among her many policy proposals.
Beto O’Rourke (Texas), 46, 3.5%: The former Texas Congressman plans to unite a “divided country” through positivity. O’Rourke connects with young voters by live streaming on social media. He’s in favor of legalizing marijuana and stresses the need for immigration reform.
Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), 50, 2.3%: He wants to unify Americans by addressing racial inequality and calling for criminal justice reform. Supports the Green New deal, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and subsidized housing.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), 59, 1.3%: The former attorney is addressing the opioid crisis and has proposed a $100 billion plan to combat addiction and mental health.
Julian Castro (Texas), 44, 0.8%: The former mayor of San Antonio and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) introduced “People First Policing” as the center of his campaign to address law enforcement’s “over aggression” with minorities.
Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio), 45, 0.8%: He wants to restructure international trade deals and supports abortion rights, but opposes the Green New Deal and Medicaid for All.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), 38, 0.5%: The Army National Guard veteran opposes American military intervention overseas.
John Delaney (Md.), 56, 0.5%: The former Maryland congressman said “Medicare for All” is “political suicide” and wants an alternative that allows for private insurance.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, 68, 0.5%: He is focused on climate change and creating renewable energy jobs.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, 58, 0.3%: He has instituted free full-day prekindergarten for all.
Joe Biden (Del.), 76, 31.5%: The former vice president vows to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, restore international relations, invest in renewable energy and provide free college education. In the early polling, Biden enjoys the widest lead over President Trump, a frequent target of Biden’s campaign. The other Democrats have all taken jabs at Biden, who is the front-runner.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vt.), 77, 15.8%: The self-described “democratic socialist” is attempting to limit the influence of the wealthy by supporting a $15 minimum wage, a larger estate tax and the breakup of large banks. He supports a version of the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and free college for low-income families.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, 7.8%: The war veteran supports overhauling the Supreme Court, stricter gun laws, the Paris Climate accord, and rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), 54, 7.3%: The former California attorney general is best known for her aggressive questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She supports Medicare for All and middle-class tax cuts.
Andrew Yang (N.Y.), 44, 1.3%: The entrepreneur and founder of Venture for America wants to institute Universal Basic income, which would provide every American adult with $1,000 per month as a base salary.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), 52, 0.8%: She vows to protect and expand abortion rights and legalize marijuana.
Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), 54, 0.5%: He has proposed an alternative to Medicare for All, which would allow people to buy Medicare or keep their private insurance.
John Hickenlooper (Colo.), 67, 0.3%: The former mayor of Denver and former governor of Colorado advocates for expanding Medicaid and stricter gun laws.
Marianne Williamson (Calif.), 66, 0.4%: The self-help author proposed a minimum of $100 billion in reparations be paid to descendants of former slaves.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), 37, 0.0%: He calls for stricter gun laws and no-interest federal student loans.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, 53, 0.4%: He wants to improve income inequality and early education for children and supports an assault-weapons ban.
Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam, 45, 0.0%: He has taken a strict stance on guns and canceling the student debt of more than 44 million Americans, totaling more than $1.5 trillion.
Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.), 40, 0.0%: An Iraq war veteran who is stressing the importance of national security and a new approach to foreign policy.
Mike Gravel (Alaska), 89, 0.0%: The former Alaska senator is anti-war, and his campaign managers are high school and college students.
Research support provided by Federated summer intern Michael Ware.