The Democratic National Committee announced the locations, sponsorships and partnerships for the 2020 debates on Thursday. The year will see the candidates go to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
CNN will host the seventh Democratic debate along with the Des Moines Register on Jan. 14 at Drake University in Des Moines.
On Feb. 7, ABC and WMUR-TV will partner with Apple News to host the eighth debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The Feb. 19 debate will take place in Las Vegas and will be the third one hosted by NBC News and MSNBC during this election cycle. The Nevada Independent is partnering with them and the event will air on MSNBC and NBC.
Finally, on Feb. 25, CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute will co-host the tenth debate in partnership with Twitter at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
Per the DNC, the debates will all “be live streamed on digital and social media platforms” as well as airing on television.
The decision for MSNBC to join up with NBC News for a joint debate is noteworthy because the dual approach delivered better ratings for NBCUniversal in the past. With 6.506 million total viewers, November’s debate was the least-watched of seven nights of Democratic candidates debating so far this year, but not the least-watched on MSNBC, which previously partnered with other channels for simulcasts that delivered higher numbers. The November debate was only on MSNBC and did not simultaneously air on NBC’s broadcast channel.
MSNBC’s previous debate, held over two nights in Miami in June, brought in 18.1 million viewers overall on its second night and 15.268 million on its first, but only with support from NBC and Telemundo. On MSNBC itself, the first night’s broadcast, June 26, fared poorer than Wednesday’s: Only 5.873 million tuned into MSNBC that evening. The second night, 6.681 million turned on the cable channel to see its collaborative debate effort with NBC and Telemundo.
Beyond declines in at-home viewership, the debates have faced issues from those on — or left off — the stage.
“It’s these artificial new rules about a debate stage that put a really difficult reality,” said Sen. Cory Booker in November when asked about not yet qualifying for December’s debate. He added his team “has all these ingredients necessary for an upset in Iowa.”
In a statement to TheWrap at the time, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Adrienne Watson said,”The rules have been fair, transparent, inclusive and give the grassroots a larger voice. The criteria were announced over a month ago, and candidates have already had over 20 opportunities to hit the polling threshold.”