Overview of the 12 Democratic Debate Candidates

Severna Park, MD — 16 OCT

The 4th democratic national debate took place on October 15 from 8:00 to 11:00 pm, eastern time, in Ohio. 12 democratic candidates went head-to-head, a historic number for partisan presidential debates. The pressure is on to make a lasting impression on the American voters and qualify for the next democratic debate in November. The qualifications for the next debate have tightened as the DNC attempts to decrease the pool of candidates. For the November debate, candidates need to stand at 3% in four party-approved polls since September or at 5% in two early state polls. Additionally, candidates need to meet certain donor requirements, having at least 165,000 individual donors contribute to the campaign. With these harsher qualifications, candidates need to step up or step out.


Here are backgrounds on each of the 12 candidates:

Joe Biden: He has the top national polling average at 26% and often takes the first or second spot on democratic presidential candidate ratings, contesting with Elizabeth Warren. He is 76 years old, lives in Wilmington, Delaware, and was a long-serving Delaware senator and the 47th vice president of the USA under the Obama administration. He has vied for the democratic presidential candidacy twice before, in 1988 and in 2008. His major points are healthcare, enforcing America’s position as a world leader, and bipartisanship. He is often associated with the Obama administration and therefore performs very well in polls among African American voters. He is seen as the most probable candidate to defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election.



Cory Booker: Along with many of the other candidates at the debate, Booker is polling at 2% nationally. He is 50 years old, lives in Newark and Washington, D.C., and is a New Jersey senator and former Newark councilman and mayor. He has already qualified for the November democratic debate, so he will live to fight another day after October’s debate night. He is best known for his proposed “baby bonds” program, which would give each American child a $1,000 savings account that he or she could access on his or her 18th birthday. The money could only be used for education, investing, or home-owning. Additionally, he also announced his plan for a gun licensing system, which would essentially work like a driver’s license for gun ownership. Also, fun fact, he is dating actress Rosario Dawson.


Pete Buttigieg: Buttigieg is currently polling nationally at 4% and is seen as an even more moderate alternative to Biden. He is 37 years old, lives in and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and was a former naval intelligence officer. He is highly educated; a graduate of Harvard and a Rhodes Scholar who attended Oxford. He is best known for his plan to increase the number of Supreme Court justices. There would be 10 permanent justices and a group of 5 that rotated and would only be seated with unanimous consent of the original 10.  He argues that currently, the appointment of justices causes too much conflict between the democratic and republican parties, as seen with the Kavanaugh scandal.



Julián Castro: Castro needs to improve his polling to progress to the November debate, as he is currently polling at less than 1%. He is 45 years old, lives in San Antonio, Texas, was the former mayor of San Antonio and former housing secretary under Obama. His two big points are immigration and a national public pre-K program, which he established in San Antonio.




Tulsi Gabbard: With a national polling average of less than 1%, Gabbard needs to increase her performance in the polls in order to qualify for the November debate, meaning that she needs to make an impression at the October debate. She is 38 years old, lives in Hawaii, and is a congresswoman representing Hawaii’s second district. She was an American military service member and toured in Iraq and is currently a member of the National Guard. She emphasizes peace-making with international threats, such as North Korea and Iran. She is very much America-first and, if president, would avoid international conflicts at all costs.




Kamala Harris: Harris is currently at 4% in the national polls, but she is still one of the more popular and well-known candidates. She is 54 years old, lives in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and is a California senator and former California attorney general. She appeals to both progressives and moderates, as she supports some liberal points, like gay marriage and opposition to the death penalty, but introduced a more conservative health care plan. She originally supported Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan but released her own which would use some private insurance and would not increase taxes on the middle class.




Amy Klobuchar: She also needs a big jump in polls to qualify for the November debate and is currently at 2%. She is 59 years old, lives in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., and is a former attorney and current senator. She is best known for her ability to work across party lines and compromise. She has released more than 100 initiatives to be completed in her first 100 days as president, such as a plan to combat drug and alcohol abuse, to improve mental healthcare, to address voting rights, and to enforce antitrust suits.




Beto O’Rourke: The pressure is on for O’Rourke to perform at the October debate in order to qualify for the next one. He

is currently polling at 2%. He is 47 years old, lives in El Paso, Texas, and was a former El Paso congressman. His biggest issues are immigration and gun violence, as he addressed and withdrew shortly from his campaign to mourn with his fellow El Paso citizens after the deadly Walmart shooting over the 2019 summer. Most notably, he raised $6.1 million within his first 24 hours of announcing his candidacy.




Bernie Sanders: Sanders is polling at 16% and is ranked by The Washington Post as the third best democratic candidate, behind Warren and Biden. His most famous points are Medicare for All, $15 minimum wage, and tuition-free college. He also hopes to negate all student debt. He defines himself as a democratic socialist, which is a political philosophy that does not believe in capitalism, but that socialism should be introduced in a democratic way. Even though he seems to ally with the working and poor people, his combined income with his wife topped one million dollars in 2016 and 2017.



Tom Steyer: Steyer will need to perform well at the October debate in order to qualify again for November. He is a billionaire who acquired his fortune through his investment firm, Farallon Capital. He is 62 years old, lives in San Francisco, and has never held a political office. He advertises himself as a businessman who can take on Trump, but he is, in fact, very progressive for the party. If he became president, his agenda would include decreasing the influence of large corporations over government and addressing climate change. He is best known for his creation and funding of the political group “Need to Impeach,” a group devoted to the impeachment of Donald Trump. Because of his large fortune, he has been able to air many ads supporting impeachment, with some even airing on Fox News. He supports a large tax on the wealthy, devotion to the solving of climate change, and increasing the number of Supreme Court justices.


Elizabeth Warren: She is a close second to Biden in the national polls at 23% and is sometimes even ranked as the #1 candidate by some news sources, such as The Washington Post. She is 70 years old, lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., and was a former law professor and current MA senator. She is also known for her help in the Obama administration in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She has many plans for her possible presidency, including a tax on the wealthy, canceling student debt, and the dissolution of large technology corporations. Her wealth tax would be a 2% tax of household’s earning income and assets over $50 million and a 3% tax on households over $1 billion. This tax revenue, which she estimates to be over 2.75 trillion over a decade, would cover all of her proposed plans, such as the cancellation of student debt, the solving of the opioid crisis, and free college tuition. She is very popular among voters because she is personable. For example, she holds “selfie lines” at the end of her rallies and events for hours to have a chance to socialize with prospective voters.


Andrew Yang: Having already made it to the November debate, Yang is polling at 2% in the national polls. He is 44 years old, lives in Manhattan, and is a business and technology guru. One of his most famous goals is to give each American a “universal basic income” of $1,000. His proposed plan to pay for this? An increase in taxes, although not a specific wealth tax.

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  1. This is helpful!


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