Third Democratic debate set for Thursday


Katy Klopfenstein/Iowa State Dai

Podiums for the Democratic presidential debate Nov. 14, 2015, at Drake University.

Walker Ochs

A newly refined group of Democratic candidates will take the stage for the party’s third presidential debate 7 p.m. Thursday on ABC at Texas Southern University. The debate field has been cut down from 20 candidates to 10.

Ellen Pirro, senior lecturer in political science, said there were simply too many candidates on the debate stage still, forcing candidates to give one-liner responses to questions deserving more time.

The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) qualification criteria for the debate were more strict than previous ones. Specifically, candidates required at least 130,000 unique campaign donors from 400 unique donors in at least 20 different states, and 2 percent or more support in four different DNC approved polls.

Pirro said the primary purpose of the debates was to serve as a way to build excitement for the democratic process. She said they also allow for candidates to express their stances on issues in public view, which helps voters decide who they really want to vote for in an election.  

Three of the qualifying candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are more than 70 years old, and stand above the rest of the field in public polls. As of Wednesday, Biden registered at 29.8 percent support, Warren at 18.7 percent and Sanders at 18 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. A March Gallup survey found only 63 percent of voters said they would vote for “a generally well-qualified person for president [from their party] who happened to be over the age of 70.” President Donald Trump is 73.

The full list of candidates who will take the stage Thursday are:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders

  • Elizabeth Warren

  • Sen. Kamala Harris

  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

  • Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar 

  • Sen. Cory Booker 

  • Former Secretary of Urban Development Julián Castro

  • Businessman Andrew Yang

Pirro said social media has had an effect on the debates and the election cycle. She said social media gives all candidates — even those that lack resources and political power — a way to reach an audience, providing an easy way to present your views to potentially millions of people, potentially kickstarting a presidential campaign.

The recent catastrophe Hurricane Dorian may come up as a debate topic. The storm damaged hundreds of miles of the southeastern coastline, and renewed conversations surrounding climate change and hurricanes. The environment is one of the most important issues for Democratic voters, according to polling.

The Iowa State College Democrats will host a debate watch party alongside the Story County Democrats starting at 6 p.m. in the Commons Room behind the Crawford School Complex in Campustown.