How to Watch Tonight’s Democratic Primary Debate

Hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing August break because September is here, and so too is yet another Democratic presidential primary debate. The party’s 10 leading candidates are set to gather in Houston tonight for the third Democratic debate of the 2020 election cycle. And unlike the previous multinight, 20-person speed-dating extravaganzas, this time’s a one-night-only affair, mostly thanks to its higher qualifying thresholds.

The political festivities kick off at 8 pm Eastern and will be broadcast live on ABC and Univision.

Who Made It

To participate in tonight’s debate, candidates had to meet two separate criteria set by the Democratic National Committee earlier this year: a polling threshold and a grassroots fund-raising threshold. (For the first two debates, candidates needed to meet just one of the two.) The thresholds have also increased since the June and July debates. Candidates needed to reach at least 2 percent support in at least four different polls conducted by a DNC-approved organization between June 28 and August 28. And each candidate also needed to receive campaign contributions from a minimum of 130,000 unique donors, including 400 unique donors in each of at least 20 states, by August 28.

Ten candidates made the cutoff. They are:

  • Joe Biden, former vice president
  • Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey
  • Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary
  • Kamala Harris, senator from California
  • Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota
  • Beto O’Rourke, former representative from Texas
  • Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont
  • Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts
  • Andrew Yang, tech entrepreneur

There are also plenty of Democrats still in the race who didn’t qualify for the third debate, including Colorado senator Michael Bennet; New York City mayor Bill de Blasio; Montana governor Steve Bullock; former Maryland representative John Delaney; Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard; Miramar, Florida, mayor Wayne Messam; Ohio representative Tim Ryan; former Pennsylvania representative Joe Sestak; rich person Tom Steyer; and author Marianne Williamson. The DNC will keep the same criteria for its fourth debate next month (remember, there are going to be 12 primary debates total—yes, you read that right), and it could be interesting to see if the field shifts at all between now and then. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

How to Watch

Unlike the presidential debates, which are simulcast across all the major networks, primary debates—for either party—are hosted by a rotating cast of news organizations. The third Democratic debate will be broadcast live by ABC and in Spanish translation by Univision from Texas Southern University’s Health & PE Center in Houston. All the major news networks will have plenty of analysis before and after the event. Check, as they say, your local listings.

Cut the cord? No digital antenna? No problem, as long as you have decent broadband. ABC News is livestreaming the debate on a number of digital platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple News. You can also watch from your smartphone or tablet using ABC’s app (iOS and Android), from your desktop or laptop on ABC’s website, or from a smart TV or connected device like Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV. Univision News will also be livestreaming on its platforms.