Gender on the Debate Stage: July Night 1 Numbers

Betsy Fischer Martin | Jul 31, 2019
For a full recap of the June debate numbers, head here.


Last night, author Marianne Williamson, Representative Tim Ryan, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, former Governor John Hickenlooper, former Representative John Delaney, and Governor Steve Bullock all took the stage for Round II of the Democratic Primary Debates.

A total of 121 rapid-fire questions and rebuttal prompts were directed at the candidates on the stage, over double the number of questions we saw on Night 1 in June. 33 (27%) of the questions posed went to the three women on stage; Williamson, Klobuchar, and Warren.

Of the 33 questions and prompts that went to women candidates:

  • 18 went to Elizabeth Warren, totaling in 18:11 minutes of speaking time
  • 9 went to Amy Klobuchar, totaling in 10:44 minutes of speaking time
  • 6 went to Marianne Williamson, totaling in 08:53 minutes of speaking time

And of the 121 total questions and prompts, the main topics covered were:

  • Health care: 25 questions
  • The Economy: 20 questions
  • Politics (ideology, campaign strategy, etc.): 18 questions
  • Climate change: 14 questions
  • Immigration: 13 questions
  • Guns: 10 questions
  • Race: 8 questions

Topics that did not make an appearance in the debate hall last night were “women’s issues.” Of those 121 questions, not a single one asked about gender dynamics, pay equity, paid family leave, sexual harassment, maternal mortality, reproductive rights, or caregiving. We only saw one partial question on child care, and it was in relation to Sen. Warren’s plan to tax the wealthy.

Tonight, we’ll be watching to see if the moderators take the same rapid-fire approach, or if they’ll give candidates some leeway on the 60-second response times. We’re also hoping that moderators heard the outcry from viewers on the lack of women’s issues questions (which of course affect everyone, not just women). We also know that on the stage tonight will be Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who has made these issues a centerpiece of her campaign.

We’re also keeping an eye on how the topics of race and intersectionality affect the debate tonight. Because the CNN debate lineups were picked at random (within polling tiers), every candidate on the stage last night happened to be white. While we did see 8 questions related to race (for example: healing the racial divide, white supremacy, reparations), we hope to see a more robust conversation on these topics tonight, knowing that we’ll have a more diverse group of candidates on the stage.

Our complete list of July Night 1 debate questions and rebuttal prompts can be found here.


Stay tuned for tonight’s question breakdown!

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