The First DNC Debate - What You Need To Know

Posted: May 23, 2019 1:45 PM
The First DNC Debate - What You Need To Know

Source: AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

*See our full list of 2020 Democrats here*

Here we go, folks. The Democratic National Committee’s first debate for its crowded field of 2020 candidates is finally upon us.

The Basics - Who's Hosting and When 

The inaugural debate of this election cycle will be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo in Miami, Florida, over a two-night span, June 26-27. Details on who is moderating the event have not yet been released. Given the busy field, and based upon its previous debate structure, the DNC made changes to the format and qualifications for its 12 scheduled primary debates.

The Criteria

  • The DNC allows 20 candidates to be on stage, making the qualification factor competitive given the outrageous number of candidates already declared at this point in the election cycle. 
  • In order to meet these qualifications, candidates must either have at least 65,000 individual donors or be polling at least one percent or more in three national, relevant polls that will be verified by the DNC prior to the debate. 
  • The candidates’ campaigns need to prove they meet these standards to the DNC by June 13th. If it happens that more than 20 candidates meet these qualifications, preference will be given to those who meet both. 
  • The DNC vowed to lower the number of candidates for future debates if the pace of candidates throwing their hat in the ring continues as it is now. 

The Candidates - Here's Who Made the Cut

  • Thus far, there are a bulk of candidates that are definitely going to be on the debate stage. They include, not in any particular order, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-2), former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke and businessman Andrew Yang. 
  • The 11 safe candidates will likely be joined by the following contenders who just barely make either the polling or donor standards, provided that they do not plummet in the next month: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, John Delaney (D, MD-6), Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Congressman Tim Ryan (D, OH-13), Congressman Eric Swalwell (D, CA-15) and author Marianne Williamson.
  • Other candidates with some name recognition, such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, have not broken one percent in any major polls or reached the donor threshold, but could muster up the campaign strength in the next few weeks.
  • That leaves everyone’s favorite progressive lunatic, Mike Gravel. The 89-year-old is not campaigning outside of Twitter, and will likely not join the major candidates on stage. 

There is still ample time for candidates to ramp up their campaigning and donor fundraising, or to leave the crowded field. The first debate will be a preview of what the Democratic primary, predicted to be quite the contest, will look like.

How to Watch

Tune in to NBC on June 26th and 27th at 9 p.m. ET. The debate will also be available to stream for free on NBC News' and Telemundo's digital platforms. 


Follow along with us on the Townhall LIVE Blog starting at 8:45 p.m. on June 26th and 27th. 

This piece is part of our Election 2020 series. See below for more information on the most talked about Democrats challenging President Trump.

Who Is Joe Biden?

Who Is Bernie Sanders?

Who Is Elizabeth Warren?

Who Is Pete Buttigieg?

Who Is Beto O’Rourke?

Who Is Kamala Harris?

Who Is Cory Booker?

Who Is Eric Swalwell?

Who Is Amy Klobuchar?

Who Is Kirsten Gillibrand?

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