The Issues Barely Mentioned at the Debates

Reproductive rights, Big Tech, paid family leave — these are just some of the big issues rarely discussed at the Democratic presidential debates.

Women’s concerns were routinely at the center of the debate

The first 5 Democratic debates have focused mostly on healthcare, immigration, the economy and gun violence and, of course, President Trump. But which issues have been overlooked by?

Reproductive rights

The issue of abortion rights didn’t come up for another 364 minutes of debate time. On November 20, 2019 the question of reproductive rights only came up 1 hour and 37 minutes into the 2-hour debate. The Democratic candidates debated to which extent abortion rights should be protected, with many candidates calling for Roe v. Wade to be codified.

Big Tech

Candidates were questioned on how tech companies should be regulated just twice. In the first 5 debates, candidates said the word Facebook, 4 times, Amazon, 12 times, and Google, twice. The word Trump came up 336 times. Medicare? 143 times. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call to break up Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple helped frame much of the discussion around tech regulation. While each candidate who responded to the question at the 5th debate agreed that unregulated power of these large firms poses a problem, few committed as firmly to break them up.

Voting rights

The first question (Question on voter suppression “equal access to the ballot”) on voting rights wasn't asked until the 5th debate. Sen. Cory Booker first brought up voting rights when speaking about abortion and the importance of voters having their voices heard after Brian Kemp beat Stacey Abrams in the Georgia governor's race. Paid family leave finally got a moment at the 5th debate —the first-time candidates were questioned on the topic.

Cohosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, the debate was moderated by Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC, NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker, and Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker. This debate showed us what American political life would look like if women’s concerns were routinely at the center of the conversation.