A Democratic deep dive

Caeden Babcock

More stories from Caeden Babcock


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The donkey is the official symbol of the Democratic party. The recent Democratic debate has played a big role on polls leading into the next debate in December.

On November 20, ten Democratic presidential candidates came onto the Oprah Winfrey sound stage in mid November and battled it out for millions to watch. The debate was co-hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. Although the debate was relatively uneventful, the polls have been eventful. Many shifts have been observed in the past couple weeks including some candidates not qualifying for the next debate.

For candidates to qualify for the debate, they had to reach three percent or more in four polls approved by the DNC. Candidates also had to receive donations from 165,000 unique donors with 600 unique donors in different states, territories or the District of Columbia. The competition slimmed down to just 10 candidates compared to the 12 candidates in the previous debate.
Candidates weren’t given opening remarks and had 75 seconds to answer any questions that the moderators asked. The moderators were Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker of NBC and Ashley Parker from the Washington Post. Candidates were provided with 45 seconds for rebuttals or follow-ups and 75-second closing statements.

The Democrats stayed calm and cool during this debate; they didn’t fight each other on policy, using softer language instead and disagreeing with each other in a more passive way.

This was quite a change from the previous debate where Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was the center of an attack amidst a cloud of other Democrats attacking her and each other. However, many points were still brought up, among them black voters. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey thinks that black voters are aggravated by the fact that they only receive attention from Democratic candidates during the election season.

“Black voters are pissed off and they’re worried,” Booker said.

Some Democrats also expressed concerns about the idea of electing another white president. Booker and Senator Kamala Harris from California want to ensure that the Democratic nominee is capable of exciting minorities.

President Donald Trump was another big topic at the debate for many candidates, one that all the candidates could agree on.The Democrats, trying to avoid conflict, constantly brought Trump to debate.They all seemed to come together and agree when criticizing Trump and discussing his actions with Ukraine, the border crisis and his potential impeachment.

“We have a president who is not only a pathological liar, he is likely the most corrupt president in the modern history of America,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said.

With no big disagreements or arguments, there was no clear winner of the debate. Warren, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders and Booker were the candidates with the most speaking time, with Warren speaking the most of all. Warren focused a lot on economic inequalities.

“I’m tired of freeloading billionaires,” Warren said.

Warren talked a lot about economic inequality but also discussed impeachment, healthcare, and women’s issues. Warren outlined her plans to create a Medicare for all plan that allows any American to choose a Medicare option for little or no cost. To fund her medicare plan, Warren plans on creating an “Ultra-Millionaire Tax” on America’s 75,000 richest families, but none of this would be possible unless the Democrats can beat President Donald Trump in 2020.

“In order to defeat this president, we need somebody who can go toe to toe who actually comes from the kinds of communities that he’s been appealing to,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg had the second-longest speaking time, speaking the most about his electability while also discussing impeachment, election reform, party strategy and foreign policy. Buttigieg wants to increase our election security by increasing cybersecurity and developing a more secure voting infrastructure. Additionally, Buttigieg wants to create a constitutional amendment to eliminate the electoral college. He stressed his plans to make a national popular vote decide our president. He also discussed his foreign policy plans regarding avoiding pointless wars, increasing American credibility, fighting the rise of authoritarianism and stress the supposed need for climate security. Foreign policy also played a big role in the debate.

“Well, they’re [the Saudis] going in and murdering children and they’re murdering innocent people and so they have to be held accountable,” Biden said.

Biden focused mostly on his foreign policy plans. Biden wants to end sales with the Saudis in order to hold them accountable. When discussing China, Biden stressed how he wants to make it clear to China that Americans stand for human rights, he wants the USA to go to the United Nations and seek the condemnation of China. Biden considers China’s actions with the Uighurs to be concentration camps and wants to call out China for violation of commitment regarding Hong Kong. While Biden focused on foreign policy, Sanders brought up his healthcare plan.

“And the American people understand today that the current healthcare system is not only cruel, it is dysfunctional,” Sanders said.

Sanders spoke a lot about his plans for healthcare. He was careful not to criticize Obama, stating that he doesn’t want to tear down the whole healthcare system but change it to how the American people want. Sanders also discussed his past, talking about how he is the son of an immigrant who came to America with nothing. Sanders says he stands with undocumented immigrants and will end the supposed divisiveness brought by Trump. However, Sanders didn’t discuss criminal justice.

“And let me say this, there’s more African Americans under criminal supervision in America than all the slaves since 1850,” Booker said.

Booker spent a lot of time on criminal justice. Booker said that the war on drugs was actually a war on black and brown people. To fix this, Booker wants to reinvest in communities most affected by the war on drugs and decriminalize marijuana. Booker plans on completely decriminalizing marijuana and expunging records to restore justice.

From recent polls, Biden has been dominating with a 27% national polling average along with the most news coverage. Warren comes in second with 22% but more individual campaign contributions than Biden. Sanders has the most individual campaign contributions by far, but comes in third in polls at 18%. Buttigieg comes in fourth with 8%, but has the second most individual campaign contributions. However, Booker has only 2% in the polls, which currently doesn’t qualify him for the next Democratic debate. Currently, only Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar qualify for the next debate.

Overall, the fifth Democratic debate lacked the action and intense heat of the previous debate but candidates still got their points across. They agreed on expanding voting rights, fighting climate change and remaking traditional American alliances around the world, but little time was spent on these as Trump was constantly brought to the forefront. The next Democratic debate will be on Dec. 19, hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. Candidates must reach four percent in four polls and receive donations from 200,000 unique donors with 800 of the unique donors in 20 different states, territories or the District of Columbia.