vision 2020

4 of the 5 Top-Polling Democrats Land on Same Primary-Debate Night

There will be two crowded stages of ten candidates on each night of the first round of debates, but one will be more crowded than the other. Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photos: Getty Images

After a more or less random lottery supervised by Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez in New York today, the DNC announced which of the 20 qualified candidates would appear in each of the first-round debates on June 26 and June 27 in Miami. The New York Times listed the lineup alphabetically:

Night One: June 26

Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey

Julián Castro, former housing secretary

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York

John Delaney, former representative from Maryland

Tulsi Gabbard, representative from Hawaii

Jay Inslee, governor of Washington

Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota

Beto O’Rourke, former representative from Texas

Tim Ryan, representative from Ohio

Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts

Night Two: June 27

Michael Bennet, senator from Colorado

Joseph R. Biden Jr., former vice president

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind.

Kirsten Gillibrand, senator from New York

Kamala Harris, senator from California

John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado

Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont

Eric Swalwell, representative from California

Marianne Williamson, self-help author

Andrew Yang, former tech executive

The DNC had sorted the candidates into two tiers — those who are polling at over 2 percent in national polls, and those who aren’t — and chose randomly from each to prevent “clustering” of the top prospects. But there’s only so much you can do with lotteries: Four of the five candidates in the RealClearPolitics national polling averages — Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Harris — will clash on the second night. Elizabeth Warren is the only polling heavyweight on night one, which could give her an advantage unless viewers perceive it as a sort of preliminary bronze-medal event. It does seem likely that the lesser-known candidates on night two will have trouble getting any attention, so it will not be surprising if one or more of them pull a stunt or throw a bomb.

It remains to be seen how the candidates will be positioned on the stage — i.e., which would-be presidents will literally be the center of attention.

4 Top-Polling Democrats Land on Same Primary-Debate Night