The DNC to allot primary debate slots

The Democratic party has announced its planned schedule for primary debates for the 2020 presidential race. To handle the possibility of there being many candidates, the DNC plans, if necessary, to split the field into two groups, and having those groups debate in two consecutive nights. The split will be at random:

If necessary, depending on the number of candidates who meet the threshold, the DNC is prepared to split the first two debates in June and July into consecutive nights, said DNC Chairman Tom Perez. If that happens, the lineup will be determined by random selection, which will take place publicly.

“It’s conceivable that we have a double-digit field,” Perez told reporters on a conference call. “That is why we are planning for that contingency.”

Pacific Standard magazine gives some background and analysis:

It’s obvious that Democrats are trying to avoid the scenario their Republican peers faced in the 2016 primary—a very large field of candidates, each with access to substantial sums of money, and no practical or legitimate way for the party to cull the field before voting began. In such an environment, with party elites split across many candidates, a wealthy and well-known candidate, even one with very weak commitments to the party and to democracy, can dominate the nomination process.

The DNC’s two-day debate plan is substantially different from the Republican approach in 2015–16, which divided up the large candidate pool into under-card and prime-time debates based on their standing in public opinion polls. The under-card debates received far fewer viewers, which likely hurt participating candidates and contributed to the demise of their campaigns. But since those candidates were already lacking in support, they likely would have been among the first to drop out anyway.

The random selection in the Democratic debates is, in this sense, far fairer. Candidates participating on the second night of a debate may well get less attention than those participating on the first night, and this may hurt their campaigns. But if this is truly an unbiased process, on which the candidates can agree before lots are drawn, it has the potential to play a filtering role in a way that party members find legitimate. And those candidates have just as good a chance of ending up in the first night for the next debate.

One Response

  1. Nice to see an example of Random Selection being used for what it is best at: eliminating human judgement, bias, deceit and even ineptitude.

    Liked by 1 person

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