2020 Democratic Candidates Get Personal

They have children, they are from small towns, they were in the army. This is how Democratic candidates represented themselves during the first debate.

Digging Deep in the First 2020 Democratic Debate

This week will mark the beginning of the end for many Democrats in the polls. The field is unwieldly large; many candidates are aggressive to get any kind of attention or grip with voters. But many hopefuls have been hanging around anyway, waiting for the first debates. The bar was set low getting into the debates: 65,000 individual donors and 1 percent in three DNC–approved polls. That means 20 debaters will be able to participate in Miami—everyone from sitting senators to Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson to a coterie of anonymous congressmen.

The casualties might not be obvious in an instant. Another debate is scheduled for July, and it has the same limits for qualifying as this week’s meetings, which means there’s one more chance for a debate-stage Hail Mary. But the next debate, in September, will require hitting 2 percent in four polls and 130,000 donors. For campaigns who had to scuffle to make the first debate stage, that’s going to be even more difficult.

Not being on the debate stage doesn’t mean you can’t be triumphant, as Donald Trump proved in 2016 while skipping some primary debates. But most candidates are not Donald Trump, as Trump also demonstrated in 2016. That means the field is probably going to get smaller, as the tide raises a few primetime contenders on to the next stage of the race—and washes the rest of the field out to sea.

While the Democratic field is at its peak, the Republican field remains frozen, with just President Trump and his long-shot challenger, Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, in the race. There will be some third-party and independent candidates as well, though for the most part, they’re still waiting on the shore.

As the presidential primaries progress, this answer key will be updated regularly.