Ready to Rumble … In A Debate?

September 16, 2019

Ten Democratic presidential candidates took out their virtual boxing gloves and stepped onto the debate stage last week with their game faces on! But before we get into what they debated about and who “won,” how did these ten candidates wind up getting there in the first place and why weren’t all twenty democratic candidates invited to participate? Furthermore, why was former Vice President Joe Biden center stage and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang closer to the edge of the debate stage?

First, unlike past debates, this debate had two strict requirements that candidates had to meet within the time frame of June 28th to August 28th:

1) Candidates must have received at least 130,000 individual donations and at least 400 unique donations from at least twenty states.
2) Candidates must have received at least two percent support in each of four polls conducted by pre-approved polling services. In other words, if a hundred people were asked who they would vote for, at least two must say they would vote for that specific candidate.

It wasn’t an easy task, but ten out of the twenty democratic candidates met these criteria:

Former Vice President Joe Biden
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
California Sen. Kamala Harris
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Businessman Andrew Yang

Once the candidates were confirmed, the order in which the candidates would be positioned on stage had to be determined. Say what? Believe it or not, there’s a method to the madness of where each candidate is positioned on the debate stage. Similar to how seats are assigned in an orchestra (the best players sit in the seat closest to the conductor), candidates with the highest average polling numbers are positioned closer to the center of the stage. (When you’re watching a future debate, take a look at the order in which each of the candidates are positioned and you’ll get an idea of how well each one polled!) That’s why former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren were closer to the center of the stage, and Senator Amy Klobuchar and former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro were placed on either end of the stage. Unfair or fascinating? Perhaps a little bit of both, but there are more debates to come and there’s always a chance for candidates who were placed at the very edge of the stage in an earlier debate to move more towards the center of the stage in a future debate.

With all the logistics taken care of, it was now up to the candidates to answer tough questions about gun control, healthcare, immigration, the economy, women’s issues, and the environment, but perhaps equally as important each candidate had to show voters that they’d be the best and strongest candidate to win the 2020 presidential election. Some shared their plans, others criticized these plans. Some said they’d take away military-style assault weapons, while others stayed away from statements that might seem too extreme.

Strategy obviously played a major role in these debates and each candidate tried their best to convince voters that they’re the best person for the job of president of the United States. Strategies included highlighting age differences, experience versus fresh ideas, plans versus action, and more.

So which candidate convinced the voters that he or she would be the best person to take on President Trump and lead the country? While some analysts say that former Vice President Biden retained his lead as the frontrunner, others believe that there was no clear winner. As you can see, determining who won a presidential debate can be somewhat subjective, but polling people after the debate often helps to gauge who the public thinks did better or worse. For now, the candidates continue to campaign across the country trying to convince as many people as possible that they’re the ones to vote for in the primaries.

Who do you think won the debate?