Democrats’ debates may really matter
The Democratic debates will matter—a lot, said Julian Zelizer. The party’s top 20 presidential candidates will face off in two separate groups of 10 on consecutive nights, and the groupings may change the dynamics of the race. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in the first group, on June 26, with mostly second- and third-tier rivals such as Sen. Cory Booker and Gov. Jay Inslee, with only Beto O’Rourke truly posing a threat to steal the spotlight. By going in that first group, Warren gets a chance to establish herself as “the progressive alternative to former Vice President Joe Biden.” Biden will be in the June 27 group, clustered with tough, higher-polling competitors such as Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. They are all sure to train their fire on Biden in an effort to trim his early poll lead. The media sometimes makes too much of any single campaign development, but these early debates could be pivotal. “In a field this crowded, they could have a very significant influence on elevating candidates and helping Biden’s opponents gain more traction against him.” The preliminaries are over; voters now will get a chance to see the candidates perform under pressure.