Enjoy tonight’s Democratic Debate: It might be the last one you see

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Watching the Democratic debate tonight?  Be sure to tune in because you are not likely to see another one until we’re half-way through the early primaries.  Do the Democrats have something to hide?

The primary debate calendar was developed by the Democratic National Committee, the organization tasked with electing a Democrat to the White House. They have scheduled a total of six debates, two of which are after early primary states have already voted.  In comparison, in 2008 Democrats held 26 debates during the primary season (ok, maybe that was too many) and 17 of them were before primary voting started.  Republicans have 11 debates scheduled, six prior to early state voting and five timed to coordinate closely with primary dates.

But the number of debates is not the most interesting part, the schedule is. If you like football or celebrate the holidays, you likely won’t watch another debate until mid-February.  The DNC, led by Hillary Clinton supporter, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, conveniently scheduled most of the debates on Saturday and Sunday nights, perhaps with the hope that no one will watch.  On Saturday, November 14 while the Democratic debate takes place in Iowa, I will be watching the Stanford vs. Oregon football game.  And on Saturday, December 19 many of us will be celebrating the holiday season with friends and family while the Democratic presidential candidates take the stage in Manchester, NH.  Finally, the Sunday, January 17th debate in South Carolina is during the heart of pro football playoffs.

Even tonight, CNN is setting low expectations for viewership and has indicated they won’t be setting up candidates to attack each other as they did in the last Republican debate.  It’s almost as if they are saying, “Move on, there is nothing to see here.”

Often incumbent candidates limit the number debates they participate in because sharing the stage with an incumbent can give challengers a forum to gain attention. Democratic presidential contenders, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, have lobbied the DNC to add more debates, with O’Malley saying that it’s undemocratic to limit debate between the candidates.  Is the DNC treating Hillary as the incumbent candidate and trying to constrain the ability of challengers to gain traction and attention?

According to some studies, primary debates have the greater potential to sway voter’s opinions than general election debates.  In a Vox.com (not affiliated)  article about the impact of debates, they quote a study by Mitchell S. McKinney and Benjamin R. Warner that found 60 percent of people who watch primary debates change their voting intentions as a result of the debate, including 22.6 percent who come in undecided and 35 percent who are won over by another candidate. Additionally, they found that once voters watched debates, they were more likely to research the candidates and their positions. The polls have moved dramatically after each of the first two Republican presidential debates, shifting the players at the top, securing a place at the second debate for Carly Fiorina and even forcing candidates out of the race because they didn’t gain needed momentum.

Despite her campaign’s troubles, most still believe Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee – a recent Rasmussen Reports poll found that 75 percent of likely Democratic voters believe she will likely be the Democratic nominee and 40 percent say it’s very likely she will be.  It seems that the DNC is trying to protect that perception and make it a reality by making it difficult for Americans to have opportunities to hear a free-flowing debate of ideas and policy positions of all the Democratic candidates.  I agree with Martin O’Malley – it is undemocratic.

Enjoy tonight’s Democratic Debate: It might be the last one you see

1029142_1280x720

Watching the Democratic debate tonight?  Be sure to tune in because you are not likely to see another one until we’re half-way through the early primaries.  Do the Democrats have something to hide?
The primary debate calendar was developed by the Democratic National Committee, the organization tasked with electing a Democrat to the White House. They have scheduled a total of six debates, two of which are after early primary states have already voted.  In comparison, in 2008 Democrats held 26 debates during the primary season (ok, maybe that was too many) and 17 of them were before primary voting started.  Republicans have 11 debates scheduled, six prior to early state voting and five timed to coordinate closely with primary dates.
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