The first debate for the Democratic primary has arrived! Here’s the 411 on the big night.
When is it and where can you watch it?
The first Democratic primary debate will be broadcast on Wednesday, June 26 at NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time. (The second debate will air the following night.) NBC will also be livestreaming the debate on its websites (NBCNews.com and MSNBC.com), and on Facebook, @MSNBC, and YouTube.
Lineup for Night 1
Clicking on the candidate names will send you to a guide focused on their stances on a variety of key issues.
“In 1858 a lawyer named Abraham Lincoln challenged Senator Stephen Douglas for his seat in a series of seven debates in Illinois. One candidate would open with a 60 minute speech, and the other would give a 90-minute response. The first candidate would then close the debate with yet another 30 minute speech.” (From the Economist)
By comparison, our entire debate is 2 hours long. With 10 candidates, they’ll each have a maximum of 12 minutes to speak, that is, if there are no ad breaks or the moderators never speak. So, count on less than that.
Value of Debates
Debates during the general election don’t seem to change anyone’s minds, but they’re very valuable during the primaries, particularly in the early stages. At this point, the vast majority of voters are not aware of who all the candidates are or what they stand for. Democratic debates have generally been pretty civil, so I expect they’ll get to talk about the issues if only for short bursts of time.
The media and pundits will be looking for the “winner” or “loser” of the debates. I think this is foolhardy. If the point of having debates is to inform voters, then “calling it” just points to the media trying to shape the narrative. I encourage viewers to walk away from the debates with a handful of candidates that they are interested in supporting further, not just one.
Consider turning off the TV and social media right after the debate and think about it for a minute. Come up with your own opinions — trust yourself.
Finally, I wrote an open letter to the media about how I think they should, and shouldn’t, cover the debates. It’s really important they get it right.