The Slatest

Everything You Need to Know About the 2020 Democratic Presidential Debates

Who’s on which night? How do you stream it? What’s the format?

The empty stage boasting the NBC News logo that will soon host the candidates in the first DNC presidential debate.
The stage is set for the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Miami. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The race to become the Democratic Party’s challenger to President Donald Trump is packed with two dozen candidates, the largest field in almost a half-century. They face off against one another for the first time in a two-part debate on Wednesday and Thursday in Miami.

Which candidates compete on which night? What’s the format? And how do you watch this thing anyway?

Here’s everything you need to know before you tune in.

How can I watch?


Each night’s debate starts at 9 p.m. and is expected to run about two hours.

The debates will be televised on NBC, Telemundo, and MSNBC. NBC will also be livestreaming on its Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, as well as and all NBC news apps.


Which candidates are debating on which night?

In order to earn a spot at the debates, each candidate had to either break 1 percent in three Democratic National Committee–approved polls or rack up 65,000 campaign donations by June 12. Those who qualified were randomly assigned to either Wednesday or Thursday night.

Candidates on Wednesday night:

• New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

• Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro


• New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

• Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney

• Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

• Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

• Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar

• Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke

• Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan

• Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Candidates for Thursday night:

• Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet

• Former Vice President Joe Biden

• South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

• New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

• California Sen. Kamala Harris

• Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

• Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

• California Rep. Eric Swalwell

• Author Marianne Williamson

• Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

There are four candidates who didn’t meet the DNC’s threshold for participation in the debates: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel; Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam; and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton.


What’s the format?

Each candidate has 60 seconds to answer a question and an additional 30 seconds to respond to follow-ups. In the interest of time, the candidates won’t be allowed to give opening statements, although the program will finish up with closing remarks. Four commercial breaks will split the debates into five segments.

The rules will be enforced by moderators Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and José Díaz-Balart.

This sure sounds like fun. When do we get to do this again?

Pretty soon. The next debates will be held on July 30 and July 31 in Detroit. There are also more debates slated for this fall and early next year.