How a crowded Democratic field will affect televised debates

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With a field of contenders that seems to get more crowded every week, the democratic presidential debates might look a bit different this election.

  • The Democratic National Committee has been meeting with major media outlets, such as NBC and CNN, who have already been selected to air the first two of 12 planned debates.
  • Although exact plans, formats, moderators and details have not been released, at least some of the debates are expected to extend over two nights.
  • Traditionally, a candidate must have at least 1 percent of support in three polls released between the start of the new year and 14 days prior to the debate and the DNC has indicated it will use this requirement again this year.
  • This year, the DNC will accept national polls as well as ones that combine data from any combination of voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa or Nevada.
  • Another qualifier is to have at least donations from 65,000 unique donors, with at least 200 unique ones per state in at least 20 separate states, according to the DNC.
  • In another testament to how crowded the field is, the DNC has capped all debates at 20 participants — still a rather unwieldy number.
  • If more than 20 candidates meet the criteria, the DNC will look at the average across polling and unique donor data to determine who will earn a lectern.
  • Initial reports indicate that participants may be broken into groups over two nights with placement and day determined by a random draw.

It’s important to note that these debates are separate from the debates where the democratic pick for president will spar with the GOP candidate (presumably Donald Trump).

  • These debates are not sponsored by either party but instead by the Commission on Presidential Debates and are typically done as the election gets closer.
  • These debates also use a variety of formats — ranging from the traditional Lincoln-Douglas style with single moderator, a panel of moderators posing questions to candidates to town hall formats.
  • Presidential debates also take on various physical formats — ranging from candidates standing behind lecterns, to being able to walk around the space or being seated at a table across from the moderator or moderators.
  • All of these arrangements are generally negotiated by the two candidates and the commission.