Here’s Everything We Know So Far About The Democratic Debates

TPM Illustration/Getty Images

‘Tis the season for the whole horde of presidential hopefuls to meet on the debate stage and use their few allotted minutes to try to sell the American people on their candidacy.

Here’s everything we know about the debates — who’s in them, what it will take for others to get in, the format, the moderators — so far.


The First Debate

June 26 and 27 in Miami, 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. ET

Who’s hosting it? NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo

Who’s moderating? Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd and José Diaz-Balart

Format? Each night will be a two-hour affair featuring 10 candidates — so, 20 candidates across two nights.

Qualifications? Earning at least one percent in three national or early-state polls from January 1 to two weeks before the debate, or getting 65,000 unique donations across 20 states with at least 200 individual donors per state.

In the case of more than 20 candidates meeting these qualifications, a candidate who met both the polling and donation criteria would have gotten preference. If that didn’t winnow the field, it would have come down to who had the higher polling average.

Who’s In? Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, motivational speaker Marianne Williamson, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).


The Second Debate

July 30 and 31 in Detroit

Who’s hosting it? CNN

Who’s moderating? TBA

Format? Same as first

Qualifications? Same as first

Who’s In? Should look similar to the first debate. We’ll see if those who are hovering just out of reach of the debate stage (think Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton or Montana Gov. Steve Bullock) can pull it together and force a tiebreak.


The Third Debate

Sept. 12 and 13, if the field justifies a second day — location TBA

Who’s hosting it? ABC and Univision

Who’s moderating? TBA

Format? TBA but the DNC is still capping it at 10 participants per night.

Qualifications? The DNC is raising the bar for the third debate. This time, candidates must meet both criteria, doubled from the first two debates: at least two percent in four qualifying polls and 130,000 individual donors (400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states).

Who’s In? According to Politico’s analysis, eight candidates would have surpassed the two percent requirement based on early polling: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Klobuchar, Booker, Buttigieg and O’Rourke — but, none of that counts. Only polls put into the field between June 28 — the day after the first round of debates — and August 28 qualify candidates for the September debate, so those eight will need to maintain their popularity.

As to the fundraising qualification, Politico did some number crunching there too: campaigns for Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris and Warren have all announced that they’ve crossed the 130,000 unique donor threshold. Based on their self-announced first day totals, it looks like O’Rourke and Biden are likely to have reached that point as well.


The Fourth Debate (and beyond)

All we know so far about the fourth debate is that it’ll be in October. Then there will be two more in 2019 and six more in 2020, one per month until April. Some of the latter half of the debates will take place in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: