How to Watch the 2020 Democratic Primary Debate Wednesday and Thursday


Summer is here, and so is the first Democratic debate of the 2020 election season.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Democrats have fielded a historically large group of candidates this election cycle. To accommodate them all—or at least the top 20—in a semi-reasonable fashion, the Democratic National Committee and its broadcast partner NBC are holding this week’s Miami debate over back-to-back nights, each featuring a different lineup of 10 candidates. The first debate starts at 9 pm ET on Wednesday, June 26, and then America runs it back with the second slate, again at 9 pm ET, on Thursday, June 27. Each night’s debate is scheduled to last two hours.

Expect a lot of bite-sized answers about the most pressing issues facing the country during that time! According to NBC, candidates will have 60 seconds to respond to questions, and 30 seconds for followups; everyone also gets a closing remark. Moderating on both nights will be NBC’s Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and José Díaz-Balart.

Who’s Debating Whom When?

Twenty candidates met the DNC’s qualifying criteria for the first debate, a combination of polling and grassroots fund-raising metrics. Each night’s lineup was decided earlier this month through a random drawing. Both events will take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.

Wednesday night’s debate will feature:

  • Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey
  • Julián Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City
  • John Delaney, former representative from Maryland
  • Tulsi Gabbard, representative from Hawaii
  • Jay Inslee, governor of Washington
  • Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota
  • Beto O’Rourke, former representative from Texas
  • Tim Ryan, representative from Ohio
  • Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts

Thursday night’s debate will feature:

  • Michael Bennet, senator from Colorado
  • Joe Biden, former vice-president
  • Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana
  • Kirsten Gillibrand, senator from New York
  • Kamala Harris, senator from California
  • John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado
  • Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont
  • Eric Swalwell, representative from California
  • Marianne Williamson, activist
  • Andrew Yang, tech entrepreneur

That’s a lot of names!

How Can I 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. NBC is airing the first Democratic debate this year, and there are plenty of ways to tune in to the live broadcast.

For traditional TV viewers, the first debate will be broadcast live on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo. For political commentary masochists, MSNBC will kick off a pregame at 7 pm ET each night; everyone else starts at 9 pm ET with the debate itself. Telemundo’s broadcast will feature real-time Spanish translation.

NBC will also stream the debate online across its many digital platforms, including,, the NBC News app (iOS, Android), and also via its apps on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Telemundo’s broadcast will be available on and its digital platforms, as well. NBC confirmed to WIRED that you don’t need to log in or authenticate with a paid TV service; all the streams are available for free. But if you already subscribe to an internet TV service like Sling or YouTube TV, the debate should be available there, too.

Finally, inevitably, there are the social media platforms. NBC News will stream the debate on Facebook and YouTube, as will Telemundo. On Twitter, NBC and Telemundo will stream the debates from @NBCNews and @TelemundoNews; if you follow either account, a link to the broadcast should show up at the top of your timeline on the mobile app during the debate. Or you can search Twitter for the official hashtag, #DemDebate.

And yes, NBC will be carrying debate coverage on TikTok.

Of course, NBC is providing tons of debate coverage before, during, and after the debates, as is every other news organization in the US. WIRED will be watching for the issues we care most about, like climate change, tech regulation, and cybersecurity; you can check out all our election coverage here.

Have other plans? Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty more opportunities to watch the Democrats duke it out onstage. The DNC is planning to hold 12—yes, 12—debates total between now and April 2020; the second round is scheduled for July. The 2020 election season has only just begun.

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