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Everything You Need to Know About the Democratic Primary Debates

The lineups have been set and the rules have been laid out for the second Democratic primary debates

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Related: RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard

The first set of Democratic debates provided plenty of memorable moments, from Kamala Harris making mince meat of Joe Biden’s record on race, to Marianne Williamson delivering a tour de force on the power of love. Public perception has shifted accordingly, and on Tuesday, July 30th and Wednesday, July 31st, the top 20 candidates in the field will again take to the stage to make their case for why they’re the party’s best bet to take down President Trump.

To see where the candidates stand before they step behind a podium for the second time, check out Rolling Stone‘s 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard. To see where they stand on health care, closing the wage gap, the climate crisis, and other crucial issues, check out our 2020 Democratic Primary Policy Guide.

Here’s everything you need to know about the debates:

How to watch the debates

The debates will be held at the Tuesday, July 30th and Wednesday, July 31st at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. They will both begin at 8:00 p.m., and air live on CNN, CNN International, and CNN Español. They will be streamed on CNN.com. Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper will be the moderators. 

Which candidates made the debates?

The roster of 20 candidates who will participate in the second debates looks a lot like it did for the first debates in June. The only difference is that Montana Governor Steve Bullock has replaced Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who dropped out of the race July 8th.

The lineups for each night were determined by a random drawing broadcast live on CNN. Here they are:

Night 1 — Tuesday, July 30th:

Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Pete Buttigieg
Beto O’Rourke
Amy Klobuchar
John Hickenlooper
Tim Ryan
John Delaney
Marianne Williamson
Steve Bullock

Night 2 — Wednesday, July 31st:

Joe Biden
Kamala Harris
Cory Booker
Andrew Yang
Julián Castro
Tulsi Gabbard
Kirsten Gillibrand
Jay Inslee
Michael Bennet
Bill de Blasio

Which candidates didn’t make the debates?

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam, and former senator Mike Gravel will miss the cut once again, as will former congressman Joe Sestak and former investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer, who announced their candidacies on June 23rd and July 9th, respectively.

The Democratic National Committee requires candidates to register at least one percent support in three independent state and national polls determined by the DNC and/or to receive at least 65,000 unique donations, including at least 200 from 20 different states. All 20 candidates participating in the second debates satisfied the polling requirement. Every candidate except Bennet, Bullock, de Blasio, Delaney, and Hickenlooper satisfied the donation requirement.

Gravel was the only candidate to satisfy the donation requirement but not the polling requirement. The DNC uses polling as a tiebreaker over donors, which is why Bullock, not Gravel, filled the spot left open by Swalwell.

What are the rules for the debates?

Candidates will be given 60 seconds to respond to questions from moderators, and 30 seconds for rebuttals. Any candidate attacked by name by another candidate will be given 30 seconds to respond. CNN has said that it will not, as NBC moderators did in June, ask raise-your-hand questions or down-the-line questions in which every candidate has a few seconds to answer the same question. CNN will also penalize candidates who consistently interrupt other candidates.

Are the debates a good occasion to drink?

Yes. Yes, they are.

When are the next debates?

The third debates will be held September 12th and 13th in Houston, Texas, and will be broadcast live on ABC and Univision. The DNC has made it more difficult for candidates to qualify for these debates, requiring at least two percent support in three approved independent state and national polls determined and/or to receive least 130,000 unique donations, including at least 400 from 40 different states.



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