IMO this is dumb on the part of the @DNC. The point of a debate should be that the top candidates actually, y'know, debate against one another. I want to see Biden vs. Bernie, not Biden vs. Swalwell and Bernie vs. Moulton. https://t.co/vO7H6OseBz
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 24, 2019
When it gets Chuck Todd excited, you know it’s not good for the Democrats:
A new rule adopted by the Democratic National Committee and NBC News will evenly divide top-tier candidates across two nights in the first Democratic presidential primary debates in June, a move to maintain viewer interest in both events by making sure well-known contenders are on stage both nights.
Democrats getting at least 2 percent support in the polling average will be randomly and evenly split between the two nights, which will each feature 10 candidates, according to the formula obtained by POLITICO. Candidates below that threshold will also be evenly and randomly divided between the two debate lineups…
Eight candidates have a polling average at or above 2 percent right now: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. With the newly announced rule, four would be guaranteed to appear on the first night, and four would be guaranteed to appear on the second night.
Biden and Sanders, currently occupying first and second place in most polls, will still have a close to 50-50 chance of appearing on the same night — about the same odds they would have under a purely random draw that does not break the field into two groups.
According to a POLITICO analysis, 19 candidates have qualified for the first debates on June 26-27 in Miami: Biden, Booker, Steve Bullock, Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Warren, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang.
Thirteen of those candidates — Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Gabbard, Harris, Inslee, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren, Williamson and Yang — have crossed both thresholds, virtually guaranteeing them a spot in one of the two nights…
So both Wednesday and Thursday will feature four potential candidates, plus five or six randomly chosen no-hopers, wannabes, and publicity hounds. No wonder Chuckles is fondling his facial hair in glee at the prospect. (And Murphy the Trickster God forbid that Biden, Buttigieg, O’Rourke and Sanders all draw the Wednesday spot.) Were I in charge, no candidate who couldn’t poll at least 2% would be permitted in the auditorium, much less on the stage.
I dunno how you measure fairness, but it seems unfair to candidates who have built up the credentials and popular support of Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders to debate all these random dudes who are only running so they can get on TV more often. https://t.co/IjiygOGyzw
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 25, 2019
Of course, this rigamarole was put into place mostly to placate one noisy group of (theoretically) Democratic voters, so of course they are pleased with the due attention paid to their complaints. Suuuure they are:
"The debates are being rigged against Bernie. The DNC needs to stay out & stop being biased"
DNC: Ok, we're literally going to make it random. We're not going to pick & choose a thing.
Serious (satirical) journalist: The DNC is going tryinh to screw Bernie again. https://t.co/E0oTw8Etjo
— Centrism Fan Acct ?? (@Wilson__Valdez) May 25, 2019
I know going from “angry young rebel” to “aging old crank” is common enough to be a trope, but there are few examples as stark as that of Matt Taibbi. Unless you include Taibbi’s inspiration here, but as far as I can tell, that dude was an aging old crank by the time he was old enough to decamp from Brooklyn to Chicago (before fleeing to Vermont).