Skip to main content

Eighth Democratic Debate: What We’re Watching For

The Brief

Following a busy week that saw an uncertain result in Iowa, President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, and the end of the impeachment trial in the Senate, the top Democratic presidential contenders have arrived in New Hampshire, where they’ll take the stage tonight ahead of next week’s primary vote. Here are the issues we’ll be watching for.

For BPC’s coverage of previous debates, check out the briefs from the firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, sixth, and seventh debates.

Election Integrity

In the wake of the Iowa caucus debacle, many observers have expressed concern about eroding voter confidence in election results. But in a blog post published this week, Matt Weil, director of BPC’s Elections Project, notes that “it would be wrong to hit the panic button.”

“Importantly, the Iowa caucuses are not run by election administrators, who have no role at all in this strictly party activity,” Weil writes. “For primary elections, like the ones that will dominate the next seven weeks, election officials will be in control using the normal voting and counting procedures.”

Although the Iowa results remain in doubt, we’ll be watching to see if the Democratic candidates can demonstrate responsible restraint in their criticism and avoid sowing doubt in the minds of voters about the legitimacy of future primary results.

Share
Read Next
For primary elections, like the ones that will dominate the next seven weeks, election officials will be in control using the normal voting and counting procedures.
Matt Weil, director of BPC’s Elections Project

Health Care

Every Democratic debate dives deep on health care, and a recent BPC/Morning Consult survey found it remains voters’ top concern. But our survey also found that more Americans would rather see the next president build on the current health care system’s foundation than move to a Medicare-for-All system on one hand or scrap the Affordable Care Act on the other.

BPC’s Future of Health Care initiative this week issued recommendations to make health care coverage more affordable by lowering costs without adding to growing public health expenditures. The recommendations will stabilize the individual insurance market, end expensive surprise medical bills, thwart anti-competitive practices in the prescription drug and hospital industries, and accelerate the shift from fee-for-service medicine to value-based care.

Read the Future of Health Care report

Coronavirus

As China struggles to gain control over the coronavirus epidemic and a growing number of cases have now been reported around the world, we expect candidates to be asked for their views on the best public health approach. In addition, as measures to control the spread of the virus begin to impact travel, migration, the supply chain, and international commerce, we’ll be looking for candidates to discuss the potential economic impacts of the epidemic.

At a BPC event earlier this week, former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen told Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal that the coronavirus is “a potential influence on the global economy” and that “there remains an enormous amount of uncertainly about what will happen with the coronavirus and whether it will be contained.” How would the candidates propose addressing the epidemic?

 

There remains an enormous amount of uncertainly about what will happen with the coronavirus and whether it will be contained.
Janet Yellen, Former Federal Reserve chair

Higher Education

The higher education conversation thus far has centered on solving the problem of mounting student debt, whether through loan forgiveness or another approach. A BPC/Morning Consult national survey showed Americans are widely and negatively impacted by student loan burdens. But BPC’s higher education task force recommended in their recent report also addressing larger systemic issues of access and institutional accountability. Can candidates expand the scope of their ideas to address these broader concerns?

Read the full results from the BPC/Morning Consult national survey

Debt and Deficits

The ballooning federal debt and annual budget deficits haven’t gotten so much as a single question in the Democratic debates thus far. But as BPC Senior Vice President Bill Hoagland said on the latest episode of BPC Weekly, this is without doubt an issue the next president will have to address. Hoagland expressed skepticism that any candidate would make debt reduction a central theme of their campaign, but with new data showing trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, perhaps this will be the debate where the issue is finally raised.

Listen to the latest BPC Weekly episode

Share