2020 Election Thread: The DNC’s Random Draw

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.

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:

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).






78 replies
  1. 1
    trollhattan says:

    Wilmer should debate from an iceberg and Joe can debate from Applebee’s. Dover has one, I’m almost certain.

  2. 2
    Jay says:

    @trollhattan:

    What, no ice flows?

  3. 3

    The problem isn’t that random choice is a conspiracy but that conspiracy theorists will never believe that the choices are truly random. Any outcome represents some kind of attempt by the DNC to rig things against Wilmer.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    If – if – a split is made with the ostensible top tier people all being together on the stage, they should appear only on the second night. Let first night be the opening act.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    @Jay
    Floes.

  6. 6
    Jay says:

    @NotMax:

    Do you want the Steve in the WTFN treatment?

    That way lies madness.

  7. 7
    Jay says:

    @NotMax:

    Literally, figuratively,

  8. 8
    NotMax says:

    @Jay

    Been practicing since he was Steve in the Short Pants. The inner copy editor is a harsh taskmaster.

    ;)

  9. 9
    Fair Economist says:

    I kinda see why the DNC doesn’t want a kiddie table, but it’s definitely the way to handle all the publicity hounds. This system is no way to handle a long series of debates.

  10. 10
    Brachiator says:

    @NotMax:

    Floes

    Beat me to it.

    “The debates are being rigged against Bernie. The DNC needs to stay out & stop being biased”

    Wilmer wants to be able to smear the top candidates and anyone whose appeal is similar to his, for example Mayor Pete. Wilmer is partially neutralized if he appears with s bunch of random candidates.

  11. 11
    jl says:

    Do floes flow? That’s the only important question here.

    I don’t see how the first two debates make much difference. My only suggestion is to allocate the bigs (> 2 percent average of qualifying polls) from Biden and Bernie on down to alternate nights to maximize the audience for the whole thing. Then randomly allocate the smalls.

    Nate Silver should use’ IMHO’ rather than ‘IMO’ for the opinionatiing out of his ass tweets. IMHO.

  12. 12
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Wilmerites and the punditocracy are being silly. The debates next month are only the first in a long series of monthly debates. Candidates will have plenty of opportunities to face the entire field of their competition on the various debate stages. And no doubt quite a few will suspend or close their campaigns anyhow as they fall short in polling and/or fundraising. One of the main purposes of holding primary debates is to winnow the field.

  13. 13
    NotMax says:

    @SiubhanDuinne

    There you go, dragging logic and clear thinking into it….

    :)

    It’s not like this is the first Dem rodeo with a crowded arena.

  14. 14
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Have debates ever changed the trajectory of a Democratic nomination?

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    The DNC needs to understand now that Wilmer’s cult won’t accept anything other than their hero getting a coronation. Why do you think they whined so much about Hillary allegedly wanting a “coronation” in 2016? Projection, projection, projection.

  16. 16
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Jay:
    When people tell you that your careless spelling causes confusion about your meaning, you get touchy. But it does. And when it happens, it is not on others to figure you out; it is on you to fix your spelling.

  17. 17
  18. 18

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Wilmerites and the punditocracy are being silly.

    That’s SOP.

  19. 19

    @Amir Khalid: Obviously you’re not a fan of the fine tradition of creative spelling.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch:

    Have debates ever changed the trajectory of a Democratic nomination?

    Good question. Not sure.

    A random factoid. In the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton led in most of the polling up to the debate held on January 31. This was a highly watched debate. This was also the final Democratic party-specific debate before Super Tuesday on February 5, 2008.

    Afterwards, Obama led in the polling.

  21. 21
    mrmoshpotato says:

    Oh 2020 Goat Rodeo (h/t Tengrain at MPS).

    And the obligatory ‘Fuck Chuck Todd and his bothsiderist bullshit!’

  22. 22
    TS (the original) says:

    Dems are really trying hard to lose this election. Sigh

  23. 23
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    BillinGlendaleCA says:
    May 26, 2019 at 5:00 pm
    @mrmoshpotato: The willow is too close to the blog and puts us all into a jam

    Had to drag this up a few levels for a belated Bravo!

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    @mrmoshpotato

    Nothin’ like a late night jam session.

    ;)

  25. 25
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    You know, you can’t be an insurgent twice. It’s tough to be an insurgent twice. And there is part of this where you look at Sanders and you think, “Maybe it’s nothing he can do about it.” It’s just that Hillary Clinton’s not on the ballot again. I say this sometimes to Donald Trump supporters who think you know Hillary Clinton’s not going to be on the ballot again.

    Chuck Todd

    Harris and Warren are the insurgents this time.

  26. 26
    NotMax says:

    @David Merry Christmas Koch

    This time, Wilmer is a regurgent.

    ;)

  27. 27
    plato says:

    A reasonable analysis of EU election results.

    Contrary to the hype, the rwnj’s didn’t sweep the elections, except in brexshit hit UK with its pisspoor 36.7% turnout.

    Europe’s voters are looking elsewhere for answers. They’re drawn to parties and political personalities they feel better represent their values and priorities.

    Some are attracted by the nationalist right, promising a crackdown on immigration and more power for national parliaments, rather than for Brussels. Italy’s firebrand Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is a successful example, as is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

    Other voters prefer a pro-European alternative, like the Green Party and liberal groups, which also performed well in these elections.

    The new European Parliament will be broadly pro-EU but also fractured, making law-making and change difficult. Just when Europe’s voters are screaming for change.

  28. 28
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @NotMax: “Honey, come to bed.” “I can’t until I’ve made all the world’s strawberries into jam.”

  29. 29
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch:

    And there is part of this where you look at Sanders and you think

    I think of Wilmer and Chuckles and of all the knitting they could get done if they both fucked off to the forest – separately or together.

  30. 30
    Ken_L says:

    They should’ve postponed the debates, set new far more stringent requirements to participate, and let the field sort itself out the old-fashioned way, by seeing who can get sustained substantial support. Otherwise they risk a repeat of the 2015/16 Republican shitshow, where Ben Carson was madly written up as a serious contender. Or 2012, ditto Herman Cain.

    There’s already a serious danger that the nominee will be the best TV performer as opposed to the best representative of the Party. Turning the primary into a never-ending televised stage show only increases the risk.

  31. 31
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @NotMax: Haha. Well played.

  32. 32
    Ruckus says:

    @NotMax:
    I thought he was last time as well.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    @mrmoshpotato

    Fairly certain that’s from the rarely seen unsold pilot for Smucker and the Brain.

    :)

  34. 34
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @mrmoshpotato: And I don’t even know what Chuckles is trying to say in that whole quote.

  35. 35
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @NotMax: “What are we going to do tomorrow night Brain?” “Same thing we do every night Smucker – try to make all the world’s strawberries into jam!”

  36. 36
    opiejeanne says:

    I’m pleased to see that Inslee has qualified but how did Marianne Williamson gain enough traction to qualify for the debates? She declared way back in January, so why is this the first time I’ve seen her mentioned?

  37. 37
    opiejeanne says:

    @mrmoshpotato: Yes, Chuckle’s comment is unclear.

  38. 38
    Ascap_scab says:

    Okay, so we know the rules for the first (2) debate(s). Do the thresholds go up from there? Next debate 4% in the polls and 100k individual supporters plus x amount raised?

    We have to knock some of these people out somehow.

  39. 39
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @opiejeanne: Who is Marianne Williamson?

  40. 40
    NotMax says:

    @Ascap_scab
    Believe I read somewhere that the threshold changes as time passes but unsure what the parameters are. That said,

    According to CNN, the Democratic National Committee has split the June and July debates between multiple networks: NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo will co-host the June debate, and CNN will host the July debate. Each of those two debates will be two nights long, the network reports. There will be a break in August in which no debate takes place, and then another 10 debates will take place through the fall and into 2020, per CNN. Source

    Also, while on the subject of qualifying, this: Begging for $1: Some Dem candidates trying to game system to get on debate stage. So in theory, anyone who raises a whopping (not!) total of $65,000 in one dollar increments would qualify.

  41. 41

    @SiubhanDuinne: The field in the House is too close to winnow.

  42. 42
    opiejeanne says:

    @mrmoshpotato: That was my reaction when I saw her listed in the article about the debates. You’ll have to read about her on Wikipedia. There’s too much about her for me to describe her accurately, and thought I’d like to dismiss her out of hand because she may be a bit of a kook, she seems to have done some very good things for other people.

  43. 43
    Plato says:

    ‘Debates’ are made for tv crap like Oscar shows. Many might watch but almost all will forget it the next day. 2016 showed clearly how meaningless the so called debates were.

  44. 44
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @Plato:

    ‘Debates’ are made for tv crap like Oscar shows

    I loved Siskel & Ebert, even thought they were usually wrong about the Oscars.

  45. 45

    @Plato: For non-political junkies, it’ll be the first time many have seen some of the candidates, so not useless at all.

  46. 46
    JPL says:

    Since Wilmer is not a democrat, should we really care.

  47. 47
    Zach says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch:

    Have debates ever changed the trajectory of a Democratic nomination?

    One terrible debate sank Wesley Clark’s campaign in 2004. Similar to Fred Thompson in 2008 and Rick Perry in 2012 in recent GOP contests. All 3 were in the running before the debate and more or less sunk the next day… a strong performance from Clark could’ve given him more staying power, which would mostly hurt Kerry, which might’ve given us Dean or Edwards as a nominee since it was fairly close… for example, New Hampshire would’ve been closer, and Clark performed pretty well in the first round of primaries after Iowa and New Hampshire despite losing half his support in national polling after a terrible debate.

  48. 48
    Baud says:

    @Roger Moore:

    This. Conspiracy theorists will also not accept any loss by their prefered candidate as legitimate.

  49. 49
    Shalimar says:

    It really sucks that the only Democratic debate is so random!!!!!!

    What? There are a million more of these things? Nevermind.

  50. 50
    satby says:

    I wish they’d tighten up the debates to only the top 10 candidates. None of the others are serious contenders even to themselves, so why give them a platform to eek out more contributions before riding off into the sunset with their loot.

  51. 51
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Fair Economist:

    I kinda see why the DNC doesn’t want a kiddie table, but it’s definitely the way to handle all the publicity hounds. This system is no way to handle a long series of debates.

    I’m with you on this. Have the top 5-8 candidates debate on Thursday night, and put everyone else in a free-for-all on Wednesday.

    One or two of the Wednesday night group will have breakout performances, so to speak, and can be at the grownup table the next time.

    ETA: Also, I *really* want to see Warren on the same stage with Biden, because she is perfectly capable of eviscerating him. His image as the buddy of Middle America wouldn’t survive that confrontation.

  52. 52
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @satby: LOL. I love how you describe it.

    It could be the plot to another “Ocean’s 11” film — Clooney and Brad Pitt use the debates to steal a bunch of cash.

  53. 53
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @satby:

    I wish they’d tighten up the debates to only the top 10 candidates. None of the others are serious contenders even to themselves, so why give them a platform to eek out more contributions before riding off into the sunset with their loot.

    Whether or not they eke out more contributions, I have no problem at this stage from hearing from the second-tier candidates. Some of them probably have policy ideas that deserve to be heard and maybe incorporated into the Democratic platform, even if the candidates themselves are Johnny One-Notes — they may end up as Cabinet secretaries or agency heads. I look forward to hearing from everyone on the debate stage (both nights!), but I recognize that I’m in the minority in thinking a crowded early field is a good thing for us.

  54. 54
    Citizen Alan says:

    Can someone please throw a milkshake on Matt Taibbi?

  55. 55
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @Citizen Alan: at the very least throw a white russian on him.

  56. 56
    joel hanes says:

    When a feeling of grievance, of being victimized, is one’s entire schtick, one is likely to feel aggrieved in all circumstances.
    Hammer, nail.

  57. 57
    Ixnay says:

    I prefer to think about it like relegation in soccer/footie rather than a ‘kiddies’ table. Let the candidates move up and down. If you’re tanking, down you go.

  58. 58
    Richard Guhl says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch: Has any debate had any discernable effect on any outcome? Even the first Kennedy-Nixon debate, it’s debatable, since those who watched on TV said Kennedy, but those who listened on radio said Nixon.
    As for Lincoln-Douglas, it was more a question of how much race-baiting Douglas did.

  59. 59
    Richard Guhl says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: And how many non-political junkies will watch? I suspect that number asymptotically approaches zero.

  60. 60

    I *had* suggested back in 2016 for the Republican primaries – also stacked with 16 (!) candidates – to use a Thunderdome elimination process. It might be relevant to this year’s Democratic process.

  61. 61
    Ramalama says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    I look forward to hearing from everyone on the debate stage (both nights!)

    Me too!

  62. 62
    trnc says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch:

    Have debates ever changed the trajectory of a Democratic nomination?

    Can’t speak for others, but I personally switched from Tsongas to Bill Clinton and from Hillary to Obama because of debates.

  63. 63
    L85NJGT says:

    Wilmer and his flying monkeys already accusing the party of perfidy? They waited till the end to do this in 2016. He has a hard cap of support, and lacks the personality and candidate skills to expand it.

  64. 64
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    I don’t know who’s talking to Bernie and advising him to reinvigorate the “Bernie got Cheated by the Democratic Party” whine-fest of a campaign but they’re really giving him shitty advice.

    I can tell you that a whole lot of former pro-Bernie people I know are A. NOT feeling the Bern this time around and think his time came and went. and
    B. Are not interested in him this time around

    Regardless of how they pick who debates who, what needs to happen is for about half these nitwit vanity candidates to just stop already. Drop out. Quit being idiots and taking up space for the serious, viable candidates who could actually win.

    Ugh. This party. It’s like my dysfunctional family.

  65. 65
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: “B” above should have said not interested in wasting their vote on him in protest this time around.

  66. 66
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: That’s what I’m seeing too from the people I know that were hard core BS supporters last time; they are no longer interested in him. At all. He has a core group of supporters that are immovable, so we need to render them a non-threat by growing our voting base. His core group won’t vote for anyone but him even if it means an even more hard core RW USCC, so we have to recognize they exist and render them irrelevant.

  67. 67
    cleosmom says:

    I know going from “angry young rebel” to “aging old crank” is common enough to be a trope

    Yes, there’s a vast difference between an “angry young man” and an “angry old man.” Same metamorphosis occurs for women who in their youth are described as “sassy” or “cheeky” — until the cheeks et al begin to sag.

    Berniebros and Steinbots, take note. However many of you may still be around.

  68. 68
    Doug R says:

    Have the first set of debates randomized like this. Then for the next set, raise the floor to allow only 10 candidates in the next set. By the time the third set of debates rolls around, the candidates should have weeded themselves out enough.

  69. 69
    Denali says:

    I don’t understand why Wilmer is allowed to particapate in these debates. He is not a Democrat.

  70. 70
    TriassicSands says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    Know eye em knot.

  71. 71
    J R in WV says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    When people tell you that your careless spelling causes confusion about your meaning, you get touchy. But it does. And when it happens, it is not on others to figure you out; it is on you to fix your spelling.

    While this is some regards true, I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said “It is a mighty poor man who only knows one way to spell a word…” Or perhaps it was Mark Twain?

    Anyways… ;-)

  72. 72
    TriassicSands says:

    @Denali:

    don’t understand why Wilmer is allowed to particapate [sic] in these debates. He is not a Democrat.

    I can’t stand Sanders, but this is not a persuasive argument. He caucuses with the Democrats and votes with them more consistently than Klobuchar and Bennett. In 2016, he gave Clinton a credible run for the nomination in the Democratic primaries…millions of voters accepted him as enough of a Democrat to support him for the Democratic nomination. if he were going to be eliminated because he isn’t a Democrat, then that would need to have been done in 2016. At this point, arguing that he shouldn’t be acceptable because he uses “Democratic Socialist” is whistling into the wind. If he were suddenly eliminated for this reason, it would likely cause millions of defections by his supporters who might well sit out November 2020 out of spite. (We’ve seen that they aren’t exactly the most mature segment of the Democratic Party.) Further, ask yourself this, if he were to win the nomination as a Democrat and ran against Trump, whom would you vote for?

    In my opinion, he should be rejected because, despite mouthing leftist ideas and policies, he is little more than a shallow sloganeer.

  73. 73
    J R in WV says:

    @Denali:

    I don’t understand why Wilmer is allowed to particapate in these debates. He is not a Democrat.

    Quoted for Truth. Not a Democrat, not in the Party, not a decent person. A Creep.

  74. 74
    Hob says:

    No matter what you think of Sanders, “he’s not a Democrat” is not an argument that makes sense in the 2020 campaign. He’s running for the Democratic nomination, and he has formally declared—using the language required by the DNC—that he is a member of the Democratic Party and will govern as one if elected. It’s true that he’s simultaneously filed as an Independent for his next Senate campaign, but that’s pretty theoretical at this point. By every measure that counts for this campaign, he is a Democrat. There are plenty of minor candidates who will be in the debates with far less of a justification.

  75. 75
    Fair Economist says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    ETA: Also, I *really* want to see Warren on the same stage with Biden, because she is perfectly capable of eviscerating him. His image as the buddy of Middle America wouldn’t survive that confrontation.

    It’s not impossible the DNC is trying to avoid something like that. Biden might win the nomination even after getting eviscerated by Warren, and that wouldn’t be good for turnout. I know Warren would be totally sensible in the general and it would probably work out; but I could see the DNC being nervous.

  76. 76
    janesays says:

    @Denali: Technically, he is a Democrat. He signed a notarized statement declaring himself to be a member of the Democratic Party a few months ago. That’s all it takes to be a Democrat.

    I think Bernie sucks too, and will be glad when his campaign comes to a crashing end, but how exactly do we define who is considered a “real Democrat”? Is there a certain amount of time that should pass between signing a loyalty pledge before you can actually become a Democrat?

    I don’t know. Unless the Democratic Party institutes stringent rules on what it takes to qualify as a member of the Democratic Party, anyone who says they are a Democrat can run as a Democrat. If anyone doesn’t like things being that way, then they should lead an effort to get the Democratic Party to change the rules on who gets to be a member.

  77. 77
    janesays says:

    @J R in WV: Agreed that he is not a decent person and that he is a creep, but he is a Democrat, and he is in the party. He signed a loyalty pledge to that effect. That’s literally all it takes to be a Democrat. I think we probably all agree that he is a terrible representative for the Democratic Party and would prefer if he would just go away, but we don’t get to decide that someone isn’t a Democrat just because we don’t like them. If you think people like Bernie Sanders should be prohibited from joining the Democratic Party for self-serving ends, then petition the party leaders to change the rules for who may be allowed to call themselves a member of the party.

  78. 78
    Amir Khalid says:

    @J R in WV:
    What I’m against is wilfully careless spelling that causes confusion.

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