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Here’s Your Guide To The Second Round Of Democratic Debates

Hosted by CNN, this week’s debates are slated to be held in Detroit, Michigan, a state President Donald Trump won by less than 1 percent in 2016.


Candidates running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will face each other on the same stage again tonight in what will be the second round of primary debates this campaign season.

Similar to last month’s debates, this week’s episodes will feature 20 candidates over a two-night event fielding questions from a panel of moderators. Hosted by CNN, the debates are slated to be held in Detroit, Michigan, a state President Donald Trump won by less than 1 percent in 2016.

Moderators for each night of the event include CNN’s Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Don Lemon, complying with new rules from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) requiring each network conducting a debate to include at least one female and one non-white person on the moderating panel. Unlike the debates hosted and moderated by NBC in June, this week’s events will not include any questions asking the candidates to raise their hand.

Viewers can watch the debates broadcast live on CNN or Telemundo starting at 8 p.m. eastern time. Those without cable will be able to stream the event online at or using the CNN app.

To qualify, candidates had to show the DNC that they received at least 1 percent support in three polls from a pre-approved list of reputable pollsters or that their campaign received financial contributions from 65,000 different donors that includes 200 donors across 20 states.

To determine which candidates would be on which night, CNN held a live-drawing of names to increase transparency in the process, using a formula designed to mix top-tier candidates with their lesser-known opponents. Here’s the line-up for each night in Detroit as the candidates will appear on stage:

July 30:

  1. Marianne Williamson, author
  2. Tim Ryan, U.S. representative from Ohio
  3. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. senator from Minnesota
  4. Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  5. Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator from Vermont
  6. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts
  7. Beto O’Rourke, former U.S. representative from Texas
  8. John Hickenlooper, former Colorado governor
  9. John Delaney, former U.S. representative from Maryland
  10. Steve Bullock, governor of Montana

July 31:

  1. Michael Bennet, U.S. senator from Colorado
  2. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. senator from New York
  3. Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  4. Cory Booker, U.S. senator from New Jersey
  5. Joe Biden, former vice president
  6. Kamala Harris, U.S. senator from California
  7. Andrew Yang, entrepreneur
  8. Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. representative from Hawaii
  9. Jay Inslee, governor of Washington state
  10. Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City

Candidates who did not qualify for this week’s debates or for last month’s primetime events include U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam, former U.S. senator Mike Gravel (D-AK.), and former U.S. representative Joe Sestak. Billionaire Tom Steyer entered the race after the first debates in June and failed to qualify for this week’s events.

One candidate who will appear on stage this week who was absent from the debate stages in Miami is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who was included on the second night of the debates in Miami, ended his presidential campaign earlier this month.

All eyes will be on former vice president Biden and Harris, who will appear on stage together again this week after the two had the most consequential exchange last month when Harris attacked Biden’s record on race issues. Harris particularly targeted Biden’s opposition to busing as a U.S. senator from Delaware, a policy that was used to integrate schools.

Following the debates, Biden saw his poll numbers slip dramatically while Harris’s support nearly doubled. Biden however, remains the field’s frontrunner with an average of approximately 29 percent support, according to Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls.

Biden made clear last week that he plans to go on offense in Detroit, telling supporters he was not going “to be as polite” in this week’s debates.

Biden’s comments came as another senator who will appear on the other side of Biden Wednesday targeted the former vice president’s record on race. Sen. Cory Booker labeled Biden the “architect of mass incarceration” at the NAACP’s conference in Detroit last week, going after Biden’s support while in the senate for the 1994 crime bill that many blame for the United States’ exceptionally high incarceration rates, particularly among minorities.

The threshold to qualify for subsequent debates held in September and October will be higher, with candidates needing to show the DNC 2 percent support in at least four different polls from pre-approved pollsters, in addition to receiving 130,000 unique donors that includes 400 unique donors from at least 20 states.