Wednesday debate

participants

Thursday debate

participants

Swalwell

Williamson

Delaney

Gabbard

Obama

Ryan

Buttigieg

Klobuchar

Gillibrand

Warren

Booker

Sanders

Biden

Trump

Bennet

Castro

O’Rourke

McConnell

Harris

De Blasio

Inslee

Hickenlooper

Yang

Each line represents a direct reference from one candidate. The line’s thickness is equal to the number of references. The size of each candidate’s circle is equal to the proportion of time spoken for the entire debate.

Wednesday debate

participants

Thursday debate

participants

Swalwell

Williamson

Delaney

Gabbard

Obama

Ryan

Buttigieg

Klobuchar

Gillibrand

Warren

Booker

Sanders

Biden

Trump

Bennet

Castro

O’Rourke

McConnell

Harris

De Blasio

Inslee

Hickenlooper

Yang

Each line represents a direct reference from one candidate. The line’s thickness is equal to the number of references. The size of each candidate’s circle is equal to the proportion of time spoken for the entire debate.

Wednesday debate

participants

Thursday debate

participants

Swalwell

Williamson

Delaney

Gabbard

Obama

Ryan

Buttigieg

Klobuchar

Gillibrand

Warren

Booker

Sanders

Biden

Trump

Bennet

Castro

O’Rourke

McConnell

Harris

De Blasio

Inslee

Hickenlooper

Yang

Each line represents a direct reference from one candidate. The line’s thickness is equal to the number of references. The size of each candidate’s circle is equal to the proportion of time spoken for the entire debate.

Wednesday debate participants

Thursday debate participants

Swalwell

Williamson

Delaney

Gabbard

Obama

Ryan

Buttigieg

Gillibrand

Klobuchar

Warren

Booker

Biden

Sanders

Trump

Bennet

Castro

McConnell

O’Rourke

Harris

Yang

Hickenlooper

De Blasio

Inslee

Each line represents a direct reference from one candidate. The line’s thickness is equal to the number of references. The size of each candidate’s circle is equal to the proportion of time spoken for the entire debate.

Wednesday debate participants

Thursday debate participants

Swalwell

Williamson

Delaney

Gabbard

Obama

Ryan

Buttigieg

Gillibrand

Klobuchar

Warren

Booker

Biden

Sanders

Trump

Castro

Bennet

McConnell

O’Rourke

Harris

Yang

Hickenlooper

De Blasio

Inslee

Each line represents a direct reference from one candidate. The line’s thickness is equal to the number of references. The size of each candidate’s circle is equal to the proportion of time spoken for the entire debate.

Wednesday debate participants

Thursday debate participants

Swalwell

Williamson

Delaney

Gabbard

Obama

Ryan

Buttigieg

Gillibrand

Klobuchar

Warren

Booker

Biden

Sanders

Trump

Bennet

Castro

McConnell

O’Rourke

Harris

Yang

Hickenlooper

De Blasio

Inslee

Each line represents a direct reference from one candidate. The line’s thickness is equal to the number of references. The size of each candidate’s circle is equal to the proportion of time spoken for the entire debate.

The first Democratic debate gave viewers a glimpse of how 20 of the 23 candidates would interact with their competitors, President Trump included. Throughout the two, two-hour events, candidates interrupted, attacked and occasionally aligned themselves with each other.

The second debate was rowdier than the first, with candidates angling to make their mark amid the two who are leading polls — former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

Candidates focused their interactions on those they shared the night with. The only mention of a candidate not on the stage came from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) on Wednesday, who, prompted by the moderator, said she agreed with Sanders on Medicare-for-all.

Here are a few other key highlights.

Interruptions

The debate stages were crowded, and the Democratic field even more so. Fighting for recognition and speaking time, many of the candidates were perfectly willing to cut each other off.

Thursday: Noisy bouts of crosstalk, and women cutting off the men

The 10 debaters on Thursday had the advantage of seeing how their counterparts fared on Wednesday — and they came prepared with an even stronger interrupting game. The Washington Post counted 53 instances of candidates interrupting each other.

Interruptions among candidates at Thursday’s debate

Williamson

Swalwell

Gillibrand

Buttigieg

Sanders

Biden

Bennet

Harris

Yang was the only candidate not to

interrupt or be interrupted during the debate

Hickenlooper

Yang

Williamson

Swalwell

Gillibrand

Buttigieg

Sanders

Biden

Bennet

Harris

Yang was the only candidate not to

interrupt or be interrupted during the debate

Hickenlooper

Yang

Williamson

Swalwell

Gillibrand

Buttigieg

Sanders

Biden

Bennet

Harris

Yang was the only candidate not to

interrupt or be interrupted during the debate

Hickenlooper

Yang

Williamson

Swalwell

Gillibrand

Buttigieg

Sanders

Biden

Bennet

Harris

Yang was the only candidate not to

interrupt or be interrupted during the debate

Hickenlooper

Yang

Williamson

Swalwell

Gillibrand

Buttigieg

Sanders

Biden

Bennet

Harris

Yang was the only candidate not to

interrupt or be interrupted during the debate

Hickenlooper

Yang

Of the top five interrupters, three were women: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) and Marianne Williamson.

Wednesday: It was a chippy night

While Wednesday was more subdued, there were still 30 interruptions among candidates.

Interruptions among candidates at Wednesday’s debate

Delaney

Gabbard

Klobuchar

Ryan

Booker

Warren

Castro

O’Rourke

De Blasio

Inslee

Delaney

Gabbard

Ryan

Klobuchar

Booker

Warren

Castro

O’Rourke

De Blasio

Inslee

Delaney

Gabbard

Ryan

Klobuchar

Booker

Warren

Castro

O’Rourke

De Blasio

Inslee

Delaney

Gabbard

Ryan

Klobuchar

Booker

Warren

Castro

O’Rourke

De Blasio

Inslee

Gabbard

Delaney

Ryan

Klobuchar

Booker

Warren

Castro

O’Rourke

De Blasio

Inslee

One of the most aggressive interrupters Wednesday night was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. From the edge of the stage, de Blasio jumped in to push former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke on private health insurance, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) on immigration, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) on Iran, and O’Rourke, again, on the War Powers Act.

Attacks

The president came under fire both nights, but drew particular ire on the second. Trump received 31 attacks the first night, compared with 46 attacks on Thursday. Warren and de Blasio were the only candidates who didn’t go after the president.

Candidates’ attacks on Trump

De Blasio

Williamson

Ryan

Hickenlooper

4

Yang

Castro

5

2

2

2

Booker

Buttigieg

5

3

9

Warren

Biden

4

3

6

9

O’Rourke

Sanders

Trump

3

5

4

8

Klobuchar

Harris

2

1

Gillibrand

Gabbard

Inslee

Bennet

Delaney

Swalwell

De Blasio

Williamson

Ryan

Hickenlooper

4

Yang

Castro

5

2

2

2

Booker

Buttigieg

5

3

9

Warren

Biden

4

3

6

9

O’Rourke

Sanders

Trump

3

5

4

8

Klobuchar

Harris

2

1

Gillibrand

Gabbard

Inslee

Bennet

Delaney

Swalwell

De Blasio

Williamson

Ryan

Hickenlooper

4

5

2

Yang

Castro

2

2

Booker

Buttigieg

5

3

9

Warren

Biden

4

3

O’Rourke

Sanders

6

9

Trump

3

5

Klobuchar

Harris

4

8

2

1

Gillibrand

Gabbard

Inslee

Bennet

Delaney

Swalwell

De Blasio

Williamson

Ryan

Hickenlooper

4

5

2

Yang

Castro

2

2

Booker

Buttigieg

5

3

9

Warren

Biden

4

3

O’Rourke

Sanders

6

9

Trump

3

5

Klobuchar

Harris

4

8

2

1

Gillibrand

Gabbard

Inslee

Bennet

Delaney

Swalwell

De Blasio

Williamson

Ryan

Hickenlooper

4

Yang

Castro

5

2

2

2

Booker

Buttigieg

5

3

9

Warren

Biden

4

3

6

9

O’Rourke

Sanders

Trump

3

5

4

8

Klobuchar

Harris

2

1

Gillibrand

Gabbard

Inslee

Bennet

Delaney

Swalwell

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) was the most frequent Trump attacker Wednesday and landed maybe the most memorable jab of the night.

“I don’t think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5 o’clock in the morning,” she said.

Thursday’s debate brought more and blunter attacks against the president. Biden and Harris led the attacks, while Sanders characterized Trump as “a pathological liar and a racist.”

Thursday: Biden on the defensive

Candidates came out swinging Thursday night with 17 attacks directed at each other.

Biden came to the stage with a war chest and a polling lead built long before he was required to participate in his first major debate in seven years. He sustained the most direct attacks — seven — of any candidate.

California Rep. Eric Swalwell called on him to “pass the torch” to a younger generation, Sanders slammed his record on the Iraq War and Harris politely but firmly criticized the Obama administration for its deportation of undocumented immigrants.

A later exchange between Harris and Biden was the most dramatic of both nights.

“I do not believe you are a racist,” she said, but “it was hurtful” to have heard Biden tout his ability to have worked with two U.S. senators who were segregationists.

She slammed Biden on opposed busing, explaining why she took it personally.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day," Harris said. "And that little girl was me.”

Biden said that had been a mischaracterization of his record.


(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Sanders, the only other candidate in the field who previously ran for president, also drew skepticism from other candidates for his insistence on single-payer health care and free college.

Wednesday: Candidates were willing to directly attack each other

The issue of border decriminalization created alliances during the first night, as well one of the tensest exchanges. Former HUD director and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro went hard after O’Rourke, saying that he had not done his “homework” on the issue. It was one of nine instances where the candidates flat out attacked each other.

A spat later in the debate, between Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Gabbard may have been even more contentious.

Ryan and Gabbard spar over foreign policy

I didn't say -- I didn't say squash [The Taliban]. I

didn't say squash them. When we weren't in

there, they started flying planes into our

buildings. So I'm just saying right now... we

have an obligation...

Ryan

The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11.

al-Qaeda did.

Gabbard

Well, I -- I understand...

Ryan

Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11.

That’s why I and so many other

people joined the military, to go

after al-Qaeda, not the Taliban.

Gabbard

I understand that. The Taliban...

Ryan

I didn't say -- I didn't say squash [The Taliban]. I

didn't say squash them. When we weren't in there,

they started flying planes into our buildings. So I'm

just saying right now... we have an obligation...

Ryan

The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11.

al-Qaeda did.

Gabbard

Well, I -- I understand...

Ryan

Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I

and so many other people joined the military,

to go after al-Qaeda, not the Taliban.

Gabbard

I understand that. The Taliban...

Ryan

I didn't say -- I didn't say squash [The Taliban]. I didn't say squash

them. When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our

buildings. So I'm just saying right now... we have an obligation...

Ryan

The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11. al-Qaeda did.

Gabbard

Well, I -- I understand...

Ryan

Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other

people joined the military, to go after al-Qaeda, not the Taliban.

Gabbard

I understand that. The Taliban...

Ryan

I didn't say -- I didn't say squash [The Taliban]. I didn't say squash them.

When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings.

So I'm just saying right now... we have an obligation...

Ryan

The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11. al-Qaeda did.

Gabbard

Well, I -- I understand...

Ryan

Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other

people joined the military, to go after al-Qaeda, not the Taliban.

Gabbard

I understand that. The Taliban...

Ryan

Ryan defended the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which Gabbard called “unacceptable.” Ryan punched back, invoking the 9/11 attacks. Gabbard pounced.

Alignments

Beyond the unity shown in the pointed attacks on Trump, several candidates also hastened to talk up their shared values.

Thursday: Candidates align themselves with polling favorites

The Post counted 22 times candidates aligned themselves with one another on Thursday.

Biden and Sanders were focal points, bringing not just attacks but frequent alliances. Candidates aligned with these two polling leaders the most, along with former president Barack Obama.

But some of these alignments, notably Harris’ kind words of Biden, were rhetorical devices that led to an attack.

The most aligned with figures Thursday night

1

Warren

3

Sanders

Gillibrand

2

2

Bennet

1

Harris

Biden

1

4

Swalwell

1

Delaney

Obama

1

Klobuchar

1

Warren

3

Sanders

Gillibrand

2

2

Bennet

1

Harris

Biden

1

4

Swalwell

1

Delaney

Obama

1

Klobuchar

2

4

2

Sanders

Biden

Obama

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

Warren

Gillibrand

Bennet

Harris

Swalwell

Delaney

Klobuchar

2

4

2

Sanders

Biden

Obama

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

Warren

Gillibrand

Bennet

Harris

Swalwell

Delaney

Klobuchar

Wednesday: There was alignment on immigration

In 15 instances, The Post identified a candidate aligning themselves with another candidate during Wednesday’s debate.

Solidarity came during a bout of mansplaining. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee interrupted Warren to brag, shaking his fist in the air, that he was “the only candidate here” who passed legislation to protect women’s reproductive rights.

That led Klobuchar to smile broadly and directly address the historic nature of this field: “I just want to say: There’s three women up here that have fought pretty hard for a woman’s right to choose. I’ll start with that.” She and Warren shared a laugh; many of the other men onstage joined in.


(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Candidates also aligned themselves along one of the biggest topics of the night: immigration.

Castro noted that Booker, Warren and Inslee agreed with his immigration plan, which included a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and the decriminalization of border crossings.

Castro created alliances over immigration

Booker

Warren

Castro

Inslee

Ryan

Booker

Castro

Warren

Inslee

Ryan

Booker

Warren

Castro

Inslee

Ryan

Booker

Warren

Castro

Inslee

Ryan

Booker confirmed that he and Castro were on the same page and twice called him a “friend.”

Ryan noted that he agreed with Castro’s position, too.

How we did this story

The Washington Post recorded every interaction and reference during the Democratic debate and categorized them as a mention, attack, alignment or interruption. Alignments and attacks were counted once per speech block, unless broken up by an interaction or reference directed at someone else. Interruptions were counted once per attempt. The top graphic shows all debate participants and other key figures mentioned more than once. Total speaking time was tracked on a separate page.

Reuben Fischer-Baum, Ann Gerhart and Kevin Schaul contributed to this report.