Gender on the Debate Stage: February 19th Numbers

Betsy Fischer Martin | Feb 20, 2020


For a full recap of the February 19th, Nevada debate numbers, head here.

Six Democratic presidential contenders, including two of the three remaining female candidates, debated at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas last night.

The Associated Press dubbed the 9th Democratic debate “Fight Night in Vegas,” which pretty much summed up the contentious evening that included newcomer Michael Bloomberg.  The billionaire former mayor of New York City, who is self-funding his campaign, entered the primary field 12 weeks ago and qualified for this debate after a rule revision by the DNC that omitted the individual donor requirement threshold.

The debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, Noticias Telemundo and The Nevada Independent, ran 2 hours and featured a total of 102 rapid-fire questions and rebuttal prompts.

For the first time, the two female candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, led the debate in speaking time. Notably in the last debate, Warren ranked closer to the bottom of speaking time chart.

Candidate Speaking Time

Source: New York Times

Warren and Klobuchar received 34% of the questions from debate moderators Hallie Jackson, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Vanessa Hauc, and Jon Ralston.

Of the 35 questions and prompts that went to women candidates:

Similar to the debate in New Hampshire just two weeks ago, “politics” dominated the questions asked by debate moderators. Questions about issues central to the lives of women and families, were only brought up in the context of a pointed question to Bloomberg about allegations of sexual harassment/hostile work environment in his company. Warren and Biden were then given time and several rebuttal prompts to address the issue as well.

Of the 102 total questions and rebuttal prompts, the main topics covered were:

Besides the presence of Bloomberg, one stark difference from the New Hampshire debate was the performance of Elizabeth Warren. Two weeks ago she was criticized for a lackluster performance. Last night, however, she came out swinging. The headline in the New York Times this morning read: “Warren Leads an Onslaught of Attacks, Zeroing In on Bloomberg” and the always colorful New York Post front cover featured a picture of Bloomberg with the headline: “Black and Bloom: Warren Leads Brutal Mike Beatdown.”

The next debate will be held less than a week from now on February 25th at The Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina and will be co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.

In order to qualify for the debate candidates must: (1) receive at least one pledged delegate from any of the first three nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada; (2) receive 10 percent support in four polls; or (3) receive 12 percent support in two early state polls.   Thus far, the same six candidates have qualified, so we could see a rematch of last night’s Vegas “Fight Night.”

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