Gender on the Debate Stage: February 7th Numbers

Betsy Fischer Martin | Feb 10, 2020


For a full recap of the February, New Hampshire debate numbers, head here.

Four days after the chaotic Iowa caucuses and four days before the high-stakes New Hampshire primary, seven democratic presidential contenders, including two of the three remaining female candidates, debated at St. Anslem’s College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The debate, sponsored by ABC News, WMUR and Apple News ran over two and a half hours and featured a total of 92 rapid-fire questions and rebuttal prompts. The two female candidates received slightly over a quarter of the questions from debate moderators, George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Linsey Davis.

Of the 24 questions and prompts that went to women candidates:

And of the 92 total questions and prompts, the main topics covered were:

Given the proximity of this debate to the first votes in the primary being cast, it’s not surprising that a large number of moderator questions focused on politics and electability. Questions about issues central to the lives of women and families, were only brought up in the context of an abortion “litmus test” for judicial nominees and in the final question of the debate which focused on child poverty.

Headlines and analysis about the debate performance of the two female candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar differed sharply. Klobuchar was generally seen as having a very strong night, perhaps her best yet. Early on in the debate she took on the issue of electability and made the case she is the candidate who can attract the political middle and not shut voters out of her coalition. She also took on her opponents directly on the issue of health care, arguing that Sanders, and Warren’s plans would “kick 149 million” Americans off of their health insurance while attacking Buttigieg for changing his position.

And for as much as Klobuchar may have shined, Warren was criticized for a lackluster performance that may have been one of her worst debates. She failed to really land a punch or distinguish herself. In fact, because she didn’t manage to assert herself or jump into fray, she ended up with only about 16 minutes of speaking time, ranking her fifth out of the seven candidates.

Source: New York Times

The next debate will be held on February 19th at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas. It will be co-hosted by NBC News and MSNBCCandidates have three paths to qualify: (1) receive at least one pledged delegate in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary; (2) receive 10 percent support in four polls; or (3) receive 12 percent support in two early state polls. The DNC eliminated the donor threshold used for previous debates. Thus far, Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren have met the criteria.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to keep track of all things gender and politics.

Join the Conversation