Second Democratic Debate Lineup

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Doug Mills/The New York Times


We ran the numbers: There are 926 news articles covering this topic. 41% (378) are left leaning, 45% (420) center, 14% (128) right leaning.

Last week, CNN unveiled the lineup for the second Democratic presidential debate which is occurring on July 30 and 31. The network televised the "debate draw," giving viewers an inside look into the process of how which candidates were assigned their respective nights. This drew ire from many and left people feeling it was more reality television than politics. The New York Times' chief television critic James Poniewozik wrote: "The devices that CNN deployed Thursday night, in a prime time live drawing for the July 30 and 31 Democratic debates, turned a momentous and fraught election into a farcical combo of the N.B.A. draft and a Lotto drawing."

Poniewozik wasn't the only one to criticize the format, though; the criticism continued throughout the day Friday. Even some of the candidates participated. Most notably on the left was Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who is making climate change the central issue of his campaign. When asked if he'd watch the draw, the Governor said "I'll be watching some paint dry here in the state capitol. I find that more interesting."

Inslee's criticism is similar to many of those on the left and our data shows that of the 926 articles written about the second debate 378 of the articles (41 percent) leaned to the left while 420 articles (45 percent) were in the center and the remaining 128 articles (14 percent) came from the right.

The draw again led to two nights each with ten candidates with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as well as South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg headlining the first night and Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris along with former Vice President Joe Biden headlining the second night. The other interesting note is that all of the candidates of color will be debating on the second night.

Much of the coverage on the left has focused on this rhetoric as it pertains to race as a New York Times article points out that Harris and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro both benefited from their respective exchanges during the first debate.

Much of the coverage from the center, such as from NPR, focused on process both in terms of choosing the candidates and qualification of those candidates instead of the political implications of the actual matchups. "NBC News, which hosted the first series of debates last month, also held a random drawing in order to determine the debate stage pairings, but it was held off stage and without much fanfare. CNN, however, hyped the potential face-offs to the highest drama, showing reporters shuffling names and then doing each drawing live (including from an overhead camera)."

The right chose to focus on the internal rift within the Democratic Party and decrying the positions of progressives like Warren and Sanders to be "socialist" and railed against by those more moderate candidates. "They [Sanders and Warren] will be joined by several more moderate candidates who are likely to question the senators' sweeping proposals for single-payer health insurance and tuition-free college, among other plans," a Fox News affiliate wrote.

Ultimately, 20 candidates qualified for this second debate based on recording 1 percent support in three DNC-approved polls or having 65,000 donors with at least 200 coming from 20 different states. 14 candidates met both criteria.