The second round of the Democratic primary debates concluded on July 31, wrapping up a two-night session featuring 20 participants. Alas, many of the questions surrounding the candidates themselves have yet to be wrapped up – especially those regarding their unusually large numbers.
So far, as many as 25 Democratic candidates have entered the race for the presidency – though only eight are actually advancing past this second round of debates. These eight include former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Pete Buttigieg, former Representative Beto O’Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Biden currently leads most polls at 30%, though with Warren and Sanders both tied for second at 14% and Harris at fourth with 12% of votes, this lead may as well be in the single digits. All four of these candidates are viewed as the favorites, with any one of them seemingly capable of winning the Democratic nomination.
Part of the reason for the lack of a frontrunner stems from the – as previously mentioned – unusually large number of candidates this year. One has to look no further than July’s debates to see the impact the large field has had on those running for the presidency. Participants were divided into two groups of ten and given only a minute to answer each question provided to them by CNN, a period of time that seems ridiculously short compared to the complexity of the issues covered. This gives them little time and opportunity to fully express ideas and values that viewers would normally base their decisions off of.
The large number of candidates also takes away votes from those who would typically be the frontrunners in favor of more fringe candidates; votes are being “wasted” in a sense, on lesser known candidates like Marianne Williamson rather than on legitimate presidential hopefuls like Biden. Compare this year’s spread of candidates to last year’s two-campaign race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, for instance.
Despite this, the large number of Democratic candidates is still not very likely to significantly impact the race for the presidency – few candidates besides Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Harris will likely make it past the third debate, for instance, and already these four are starting to pull away from the rest of the pack.
The far greater questions are those surrounding the candidates themselves. Joe Biden, for instance, is still battling allegations concerning potential inappropriate conduct towards women, while Kamala Harris is attempting to respond to questions about her criminal justice record. There’s also the question as to whether or not someone from this pool of candidates will be enough to defeat Republican favorite President Trump in the 2020 election, a mission that has been staring Democrats in the face since his election three years ago.
All in all, Democratic voters have quite the task ahead of them, especially considering this year’s number of candidates. Still, a candidate should rise from the rest regardless, and hope to challenge Trump in next year’s presidential election.
Brandon Kim, Grade 11
Culver City High School