Election 2020

Who talked the most during the December Democratic debate

The sixth Democratic debate featured just seven candidates, the fewest of any debate so far. Former vice president Joe Biden, who leads the field in national polling, largely stayed out of contentious back-and-forths between opponents.

[Winners and losers from the debate]

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg sparred with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over several issues: Whether benefits like free college should be extended to the wealthy, how to best solve increasing health-care costs, and the ethics of Buttigieg’s recent “wine cave” fundraiser.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire activist Tom Steyer — the group’s nonpoliticians — spoke the least.

Three candidates who were in the last debate did not appear on stage tonight. Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) dropped out of the race in early December. Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) both failed to meet the debate qualification’s polling threshold, which is set by the Democratic National Committee.

All seven candidates who did qualify signed a letter calling on the DNC to loosen those rules, noting that they have prevented nonwhite candidates from making the stage. Six of the seven candidates who debated tonight are white.

The DNC has not yet announced how it will decide which candidates make the stage on January 14, which will be the final debate before the Iowa caucus. A spokesperson told The Post last week that the debate threshold “is extremely low and reflects where we are in the race.”

Kevin Schaul

Kevin Schaul is a senior graphics editor for The Washington Post. He covers national politics and public policy using data and visuals.

Ted Mellnik

Ted Mellnik explores and analyzes data and maps for graphics, stories and interactives.

About this story

The Post tracked about how much time each candidate spent talking. When multiple candidate spoke over one another, neither was awarded time. Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.