NBC announces grouping for first debate

NBC News conducted a random drawing Friday, June 14, 2019, to determine how the 20 Democratic presidential candidates will be grouped during the two night first debate.

First, the results:

  • June 26: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
  • June 27: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, author Marianne Williamson, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the way the lineup was drawn was a bit complex. According to NBC News, here’s how it worked:

  • First, candidates were divided into two groups — those who polled on average at or above 2% through midnight on Wednesday, June 12, and those who polled on average below 2% during the same time period.
  • This “sub” grouping was done to avoid having all higher polling candidates debate each other on one evening, according to NBC and the DNC.
  • Each candidate had the option to send a representative to NBC News’ headquarters to witness the drawing.
  • Candidate names were displayed on a slip of paper before being placed in a box.
  • A representative from NBC’s Standards and Practices department performed the random drawings.
  • NBC executives then decided which group would go first and which would be on the second night.

NBC did not announce how candidates will be positioned on stage, nor was it immediately clear how that would be determined.

NBC will use a total of five moderators from across its properties:

  • “NBC Nightly News” and “Dateline” anchor Lester Holt will moderate the first hour on each evening.
  • “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie and Telemundo anchor and “NBC Nightly News” Saturday anchor Jose Diaz-Balart will join Holt.
  • For the second hour of each evening, “Meet the Press” moderator and “MTP Daily” anchor Chuck Todd will moderate alongside “The Rachel Maddow Show” anchor Rachel Maddow.
  • Holt will also appear in the second hour.

The debate will air across NBCUniversal properties:

  • The NBC broadcast network
  • MSNBC
  • Telemundo broadcast network
  • NBCNews.com
  • NBC and Telemundo digital properties and apps