The Democratic National Commitee announced its debate schedule for the 2016 nomination process. The party will hold six sanctioned debates and they will be monthly, starting in October. The first debate in October will be on CNN and take place in Nevada.
The Democrats are holding six debates, compared to the Republicans’ eight. The Republican debates will also be monthly, although they start two months earlier.
The debates’ locations and media partners have all been announced. The locations of the debates are also noteworthy. The states are all either primary states, key battleground states, or both.
CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Univision, the Washington Post, and PBS are all media partners. The Congressional Black Caucus Institute will also be a partner, co-partnering with NBC.
The criteria for the debate has been set by the national party, whereas the criteria was set by the networks for the Republican debates. In order to qualify, a candidate must register at least one percent in at least three national polls in the six weeks before the debate. This could be trouble for former Governor Lincoln Chafee, who hovers right around zero and one percent. That problem is intensified as there has been less Democratic national polling.
Senator Bernie Sanders and former Governor Martin O’Malley, two of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s most prominent opponents, have criticized the amount of debates. Six is a sharp decline from the twenty-six debates in the 2008 Democratic nomination. At this point in the 2008 cycle (2007), seven debates had already been conducted.
Senator Sanders released a statement regarding the number of debates:
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the debate schedule announced by the Democratic National Committee. At a time when many Americans are demoralized about politics and have given up on the political process, I think it’s imperative that we have as many debates as possible — certainly more than six. I look forward to working with the DNC to see if we can significantly expand the proposed debate schedule.”
The O’Malley campaign has also been quite public over their displeasure. Emails were sent to supporters calling on them to tweet the DNC and use the hashtag, #WeNeedDebate. The progressive group, MoveOn, has also joined the fight and its executive director, Ilya Sheyman, called on the DNC to go “back to the drawing board.”
Debates can have a great affect on the nomination process as they show candidates relatively unscripted and on an even platform. Candidates can also challenge each other and the debates have large ratings which is free media for the candidates. The debates tend to have an equalizing effect where the fundraising and ad buys do not matter for a few hours.
Holly Shulman, national press secretary for the DNC, responded to the O’Malley campaign’s efforts in a statement to TKNN:
We’re thrilled to hear that Governor O’Malley is eager to participate in our debates. We believe that six debates will give plenty of opportunity for the candidates to be seen side-by-side. I’m sure there will be lots of other forums for the candidates to make their case to voters, and that they will make the most out of every opportunity.