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Here's What You Need to Know About the 2020 Democratic Primary Debates

Madison Feller
Photo credit: MSNBC - Getty Images

From ELLE

The 2020 presidential race is in full swing, and there's a mind-boggling number of Democratic primary candidates vying for the party's official spot. Luckily for voters, the debates have officially begun. Here, everything you need to know.

When is the third round of debates?

In case you missed it, the first Democratic primary debates took place on June 26 and June 27 in Miami, Florida. NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo hosted those debates, and the moderators were Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart.

The second round of debates were hosted by CNN in Detroit on July 30 and 31, and the moderators were Dana Bash, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper.

Now, the third round of debates will be hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision on September 12 and 13 in Houston, Texas. The debate will take place at Texas Southern University, a public historically black university.

NBC News reported that there will be a total of 12 debates during the Democratic primary season, and that the June debate was the first of six scheduled for 2019.

How can I watch it?

According to ABC, the third round of debates will be on ABC News Live, the ABCNews.com website and apps, as well as Hulu Live and Facebook Watch.

What will be the format?

While details have not yet been released for the Houston debates, for the Detroit debates, candidates had the opportunity for open and closing statements. During the debate time, candidates had 60 seconds to respond to moderator questions and 30 seconds for responses and rebuttals; they also had 30 seconds to respond if a candidate attacked them by name.

Is everyone debating?

Definitely not. For the first and second round of debating, the Democratic National Committee announced that candidates have two paths to qualifying:

  1. "Register 1% or more support in three polls (which may be national polls, or polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada) publicly released between January 1, 2019, and 14 days prior to the date of the Organization Debate." (Read more about the specific polling restrictions here.)
  2. "Candidates may qualify for the debate by demonstrating that the campaign has received donations from at least (1) 65,000 unique donors; and (2) a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states."

But after the first two debates, things get even trickier. To qualify for the third and fourth debates, which will take place in September and October, candidates will need to meet two requirements:

  1. 130,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states
  2. Register at least 2% support in four qualifying polls released between June 28 and August 28.

So, who has qualified?

Candidates have until August 28 to reach the benchmarks set by the DNC. As of now, the New York Times has reported that only eight candidates have qualified so far for the third round of debates, based on the DNC's standards. They include: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. (Julián Castro and Andrew Yang are reportedly close to qualifying.)

According to the Times, if 10 or fewer candidates qualify, there will only be one night of debating instead of two. As of now, a Times analysis shows that only 10-12 candidates are likely to qualify.

ELLE.com will continue to update this post.

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