The first round of Democratic debates is finally here, folks. On June 26 and 27, these 20 presidential hopefuls are taking the stage over two nights to talk 2020 elections. Even though Election Day is still nearly 17 months away, Americans have started tuning in to election conversations, picking favorites, and even rallying for certain candidates. It goes without saying, especially during these tumultuous times, that folks have pretty strong opinions on politics and what makes a good (and bad) president. These tweets about the first night of Democratic debates have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the 10 candidates on stage.
The first night of Democratic debates started off with a bang as candidates answered questions fielded by moderators Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and José Diaz-Balart, and talked about what's most important to them.
However, it was former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas who broke the internet within the first few minutes, when he addressed the United States' economy problem by answering half the question in Spanish. Moderator Savannah Guthrie handed O'Rourke an economic question for his first answer, asking, “Some Democrats want a marginal individual tax rate of 70 percent on the very highest earners, those making more than $10 million a year. Would you support that? And if not, what would your top individual rate be?” The former representative, for his part, started off by saying the economy needs to work for everyone, and then seamlessly transitioning into Spanish.
The reaction? Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey's faces were just too good for Twitter to ignore.
Ironically, in either language, O'Rourke didn't actually answer the question. When he had finished speaking, Guthrie asked again. “Would you support a 70 percent individual marginal tax rate? Yes, no, or pass.” O'Rourke responded — in English — that he would support taxes "fair to everyone."
Even though O'Rourke's moment became the subject of a handful of truly golden memes, it's important to note that it's hardly a stretch for him to bust out some Spanish. An estimated 41 million United States' residents speak Spanish in their homes, according to CNN, making it a comfortable language for a significant portion of Americans. Not to mention the fact that the United States has no official language at the national level, with English and Spanish being the two most commonly spoken tongues.
Despite Booker's astonished expression after O'Rourke's moment, later in the debate the New Jersey senator answered a question on the topic of immigration in... you guessed it... Spanish. So, the playing field just got a lot more level. On the other side, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julián Castro, who is Latino, saved his Spanish for his final statement.
One thing is certain: the candidates' Spanish-language remarks speak (you see what I did there) to the influence that Hispanic and Latinx voters have within the United States. According to CNN, the Hispanic community made up 11% of the United States' population in 2016. In addition, a 2015 report from the U.S. Census Bureau projected that come 2060, Hispanic individuals will compose nearly 29% of the United States' population, with an estimated 119 million Hispanic individuals residing in the country. So, while these memes are definitely entertaining, candidates speaking in Spanish may help candidates reach some of the most influential communities in the United States.
The first set of presidential debates are taking place over two nights on Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights. Anyone who wants to know where the candidates stand at this point in the election cycle can watch the debates live on NBC, MSNBC, or Telemundo, or stream for free on NBC's digital platforms. Each night of the debates features 10 different candidates — night one featured candidates such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), and more. The second group includes names such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.
According to CNN, candidates prepared for the first round of debates with different strategies. Sen. Sanders, who will take the debate stage on night two, told CNN his team has been working in figuring out how to stand out from from the rest of the candidates, whereas former U.S. Vice President Biden, another night two candidate, has been preparing for his record to be a point of contention. According to The New York Times, Sen. Klobuchar, who is debating on night one, took a different kind of approach to prepare for the debates by watching the Republican debates of 2012 and 2016 and studying the format.
Although the first round of debates will like affect how candidates do in the polls, only a few candidates out of the 20+ running have been consistently leading in the polls so far. According to data collected by FiveThirtyEight, as of June 26 Biden, Sen. Sanders, and Sen. Warren are leading in the polls, with Biden ahead by significant numbers in some polls. Those numbers change a bit from state to state — for example, Sen. Harris is ahead of Sen. Warren in her home state of California, and former Rep. O'Rourke is second in the polls in his home state of Texas.
But don't worry if you've missed these debates, because there's more to come. According to NBC News, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has 12 primary debates lined up. The second round of debates will be held on July 30 and July 31, 2019, a little over a month after the first round.
With a stacked debate calendar that will take viewers well into 2020, all anyone can do right now is sit back, relax, and get to know the candidates. Clearly, Twitter is having a good time.