Extra electability than overseas coverage: The second debate matters, by the numbers

5 hours after it started (with a 21-hour break within the center), the second Democratic main debate of 2020 has come to an finish. Twenty candidates over two days, scrapping over a wide range of matters … decided by a cable information community.

It’s admittedly a bizarre technique to run issues. There’s a purpose to associate with a cable community: Your debate can be on cable TV. However it’s a bit unusual to let the identical community that figured every debate phase ought to start with 10-minute “Monday Night time Soccer”-style introductions be the first driver of the matters presidential candidates will talk about. That is impolite and deceptive: The intros are from company and the matters are decided by CNN’s journalists. That these journalists are those deciding what Democratic voters study extra about is, once more, odd.

So what did they discuss? As we did following the primary spherical of the talk on Tuesday, we made a chart displaying the stream of the night on Wednesday, together with the approximate variety of minutes spent on every topic.

(It features a transient apart to debate college busing in the course of an extended phase about legal justice points.)

The totals, then, appear to be this (excluding the opening and shutting statements).

Subject First night time Second Complete
Well being care 21 24 45
Immigration 10 17 27
Gun management 9 0 9
Electability 13 6 19
Local weather change 12 13 25
Infrastructure 3 0 3
Racial divide 9 6 15
Financial system/commerce 10 7 17
Wealth tax 4 0 4
Scholar debt 5 0 5
International coverage 11 6 17
Legal justice 0 15 15
Busing 0 3 3
Girls’s points 0 9 9
Mueller probe 0 6 6

These are approximate durations and loosely described classes. However the focus is apparent: a lot of well being care, immigration and local weather change. These matters, you’re most likely conscious, are ones that are usually close to the forefront of what voters wish to hear extra about. In addition they spent extra time on electability than overseas coverage, which, whereas an essential topic to Democrats, might not be probably the most helpful steadiness over the long term.

On Tuesday night time, the candidates all weighed in on the provided matters pretty evenly, with the candidates main within the polls getting extra alternatives to take action (partially as a result of they obtained time to rebut costs made by their opponents). On Wednesday, issues have been a bit extra uneven, with individuals reminiscent of Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) getting a chance to weigh in lower than, say, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). As on Tuesday, the main candidate — right here former vp Joe Biden — weighed in on probably the most segments.

Right here’s how issues regarded on Tuesday.

Right here’s a thought experiment. These tuning in for each nights have been handled to 45 minutes of dialogue about well being care, involving all 20 candidates at one level or one other.

The health-care debate on each nights tended to emphasise arcane factors of disagreement between the candidates on sweeping proposals. These attuned to the talk might have discovered the dialogue informative; these not attuned to it might properly have been baffled.

If you’re a type of who watched all 5 hours of the talk (or, actually, all four-plus hours of debate, as soon as you are taking out the intros and the advertisements), would you say you’ve got a greater understanding of the place the candidates stand on well being care? Are you able to articulate businessman Andrew Yang’s place? Are you able to articulate Biden’s?

If not, why not?

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