Here's a successful recipe for getting no one to watch a political debate: Schedule it for late on a Saturday night. Not convinced you've killed off your entire viewership? Then be sure to put it smack dab in the middle of a really important football game.
Unfortunately for Democrats, that's the exact position that the second Democratic debate is in. Saturday evening's debate at the University of Des Moines will be held at 8 p.m. local time, notably creating a big conflict for any Iowa Hawkeyes fans, who will be an hour into watching their team's showdown against their top regional rivals, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The winner of that game — which pits the undefeated Hawkeyes against Gophers hungry for a chance at redemption — will take home the coveted "Floyd of Rosedale," which is a trophy shaped like a bronze pig. So basically, it's the sort of game that no self-respecting Hawkeyes fan is going to want to miss.
"It's just gonna be you, and me, and the pundits, and a few other people watching," one Democratic political strategist, Bob Shrum, noted wryly to National Review. In fact, some conspiratorial Democrats think this is all rather convenient, and that the debate was intentionally set for game night in Iowa because of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's alleged bias toward Hillary Clinton. By airing the debate during an inconvenient time, underdogs Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley will have less of a chance to gain supporters.
"It's an embarrassment. It's so Machiavellian and calculating," an anonymous "prominent Obama bundler" complained to National Review.
Iowa is the first state in the nation to pick its preference for a candidate — its caucus will be held on February 1, 2016.