What: The second round of Democratic Party Presidential Primary Debates
Where: The Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan, broadcast on CNN and their various affiliate networks
When: 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific July 30 (Tonight!) and July 31
Moderators: Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper (GROSS)
Any candidates drop out of the clown car since last time?
Eric Swalwell is out to run for Congress again.
Anybody jump in?
Tom Steyer, billionaire busybody and pro-impeachment fundraiser has gotten in. He's promised to spend 100 million of his own money and is spending like mad on Facebook to try to get the donor threshhold met for the next round of the debates. He has no real platform or reason to run and could be doing so much more by say, giving the max to a ton of states legislative candidates. But like most of the Democratic Party he is focused on the White House.
Who Qualified for These Debates?
Everybody who did last time except for Swalwell (obviously), who has been replaced by Steve Bullock, the term limited Governor of Montana.
What's been going on in the race since last time?
Biden has been trying to recover from Harris' attack on busing. He's been forced to actually campaign for the nomination instead of just assuming he's going to win. Polling in general has been tighter since the last debate, though Harris' massive bounce has been fading and it appears Warren has moved into second place, ahead of her and Sanders. Biden still leads. Harris I think has the cleanest non-Biden path to the nomination, if she can consolidate black voters behind her. She got the endorsement of the organization for Michigan's black legislators yesterday, for example. I'm still behind Warren, who continues to slowly increase her share of the vote, though she'll probably need a big jump at some point to actually win. Or to outperform her national numbers in Iowa/New Hampshire which is certainly possible given how much she's invested in those states.
How were the debate participants chosen this time?
Same qualifications as last night, 1% in three polls from approved firms OR 65k donors. Polling was prioritized, so Gravel was not invited despite having 65k donors. CNN aired a big dumb NBA draft lottery type show to actually pick the nights each candidate would be picked. The top four (Biden/Warren/Sanders/Harris) were separated into one tier and then split up, then the next six (Buttigieg, O'Rourke, Klobuchar, Booker, Yang, Castro), and the final ten were sprinkled throughout.
Who's in the July 30 Debate?
Basically a whole bunch of lame moderates and then Bernie and Warren at the top. Buttigieg's national numbers re down into the mid single digits, though he does poll better in the early states. You'll probably see some ineffectual attacks on Bernie and Warren from Hickenlooper and Delaney especially. Everything out of the Sanders and Warren campaigns has been about how they're friends and will not be attacking each other tonight.
Who's in the July 31 Debate?
Bill de Blasio
Biden vs. Harris, round 2! Basically everybody's still coming after Joe as the frontrunner. We'll see if he does any better this time. Both of the candidates who are at least 1/4 to be Fox News pundits by the next presidential cycle are here, so that's annoying. Castro did well last time and I'm rooting for him to repeat that.
Which of the moderators is most likely to give a Chuck Todd-esque performance?
Bash or Tapper. They're both awful. Tapper's sometimes good at mocking Trump, but hates the left pretty passionately. He's almost guaranteed to ask Sanders some sort of question about being a bad Jew for not supporting Israel. And they'll both ask Warren and Sanders some disingenuous nonsense about massive spending blowing up the deficit. Lemon is kind of um, clueless a lot of the time, but not actively objectionable.
Are we going to trim the damn field at any point?
Yes, the next debate in September, will require candidates to poll at 2% in three polls AND have 130k donors. Booker became the I think sixth person to meet those qualifications earlier this week. Should stay there give or take Yang, Castro, Klobuchar, and O'Rourke. You would also imagine some of these people will drop out if they don't push their numbers after this debate, especially the ones who have a House seat to defend next fall (Gabbard sort of, Ryan, Moulton) or the ones whose campaigns are a rolling tire fire and are trying to maintain some respectability (Hickenlooper). Unfortunately, the one being propped up by the GOP (Williamson) probably won't be leaving us any time soon, but will hopefully be leaving the debate stage after tonight.
Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.