Well, for some things, Google is more effective.
During debates, Google is where Americans turn to find the answers to their less academic questions. We expect Wednesday night to be no different, when Democratic 2020 presidential candidates face off in Atlanta. Anticipating that curiosity — and since The Washington Post is one of the evening’s co-hosts — we figured we’d make it easier for you. This article will be updated during the debate with the most common questions about the candidates that are bubbling up on Google.
We’ll start by answering the questions Americans had coming into the debate, the five most common queries for each of the 10 candidates who will be onstage. Many of the questions, you’ll note, are of the form for which anonymous Web searches are ideal: goofily mundane — but still interesting. Now, thanks to us, you won’t have these trivialities muddying your Google search history.
QUESTIONS DURING THE DEBATE
Two questions that emerged during the debate focus on tangentially mentioned issues.
What is a Rhodes Scholar? Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) referred to the Rhodes Scholarship during the debate, saying that he was the “other Rhodes Scholar mayor on this stage.” (The first was South Bend., Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.)
A Rhodes Scholarship is an elite educational fellowship granted to 32 college students annually based at Oxford University. They are chosen, per the scholarship website, “not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.”
What is Citizens United? Amy Klobuchar mentioned she would advocate a constitutional amendment overturning “Citizens United.” It’s a reference to a Supreme Court decision — Citizens United v. FEC — decided in 2010. In essence, the decision opened the door for corporate spending in politics, a shift that many Democrats point to as a cause of a massive influx of money that has disproportionately bolstered Republican candidates.
What religion is Pete Buttigieg? Buttigieg is Episcopalian. He talks about his religious background with some regularity and has suggested that Democrats need to do a better job reaching out to religious voters.
Not really a question, but Google did share the most common height-related questions shortly before the debate began. People are actually most interested in knowing how tall Buttigieg is. (The figures here are relative to interest in Buttigieg.)
Former vice president Joe Biden
Who is Joe Biden? Joe Biden is a former vice president of the United States, serving under Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. Before that, he was a U.S. senator from the state of Delaware. He’s twice run for president before and neither time did very well — though he did essentially parlay his 2008 bid into the vice presidency.
When did Joe Biden enter the race? On April 25 of this year, later than many of his competitors.
Is Joe Biden running for president? Well, yes.
Is Joe Biden a Democrat? He is.
Where is Joe Biden from? Good question! While Biden is generally associated with Delaware, given his decades of service to that state, he and his campaign would also like to remind voters that he was actually born in Scranton, Pa., a salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar city in the northeastern part of the state. He lived there for much of elementary school.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Who is Cory Booker dating? Booker’s love life has long spurred interest in gossip columns. But his current romantic partner, actress Rosario Dawson, is probably the highest-profile person with whom he’s been connected.
Is Cory Booker still running for president? He is. Though his campaign has been one big rocky patch since he announced, it hit a particularly rocky patch in September when Booker made public that he needed an infusion of contributions to keep going. He got the money and got to stick around.
That he is participating in the debate is a good sign that he’s still in the race.
How old is Cory Booker? An even 50.
Is Cory Booker married? Happily for Ms. Dawson, he is not.
Who is Cory Booker? New Jersey’s junior senator and the former mayor of Newark. He gained national attention in that role for both his charisma and his fight against corruption and poverty in the city.
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Is Pete Buttigieg married? He is. Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, married in 2018.
Is Pete Buttigieg gay? Happily for Chasten, he is.
How to pronounce Buttigieg? Allow Jimmy Kimmel to explain.
How old is Pete Buttigieg? He is 37. Should he win, he’d be the youngest president by nearly four years, turning 39 the day before inauguration.
Who is Pete Buttigieg? The mayor of the Indiana city of South Bend, near the University of Notre Dame. That title will change shortly, though, since Buttigieg didn’t seek reelection to his post.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
Who is Tulsi Gabbard? A native of American Samoa, Gabbard now serves as a representative from the slightly closer islands that constitute Hawaii.
Is Tulsi Gabbard married? She is, to a cinematographer named Abraham Williams.
How old is Tulsi Gabbard? A little less than a year older than Buttigieg. Or, more directly: 38.
Is Tulsi Gabbard still in the race? Yes. Like Booker, though, she’s not polling very well.
What does Tulsi Gabbard stand for? This is a pretty broad question and one, at least in this case, that is probably better left for the debate. Or you can see our comparison of the candidates’ policy positions.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.)
Who is Kamala Harris? California’s junior senator and the state’s former attorney general. She’s a native of the San Francisco Bay area, which may explain why she’s looking for more affordable housing in Washington.
How old is Kamala Harris? Harris is 55.
Is Kamala Harris still running? She is. In fact, for a few weeks, she was among the front-runners after a terribly effective exchange with Biden in the first debate. That bump soon faded, though, and Harris’s campaign is now struggling. But: She’s in the debate!
Is Kamala Harris married? Yes. She’s married to Douglas Emhoff, an attorney.
What happened to Kamala Harris? She was in a dance troupe in Montreal for a while? I’m not really sure how to answer this question.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
How old is Amy Klobuchar? Klobuchar is 59.
Who is Amy Klobuchar? Like Harris, Klobuchar is a former prosecutor who went on to serve in the Senate, representing the state of Minnesota, the state she is from.
Where is Amy Klobuchar from? See above.
How is Amy Klobuchar doing in the polls? About as well as Gabbard and Booker, according to RealClearPolitics’ average of polls.
What does Amy Klobuchar stand for? The national anthem, presumably. Here, again, is our comparison of policy positions if you want slightly more detail.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
How old is Bernie Sanders? Sanders is 78. If he were elected, he’d be the oldest president inaugurated in history — and would be older than any president has been at the end of his term.
How much is Bernie Sanders worth? His income topped $1 million after his 2016 run, which critics have seized upon as contradictory to his campaign focus on reducing income inequality. Most of that income was a function of the book he wrote. His net worth is slightly higher, thanks to his and his wife’s ownership of two homes.
Is Bernie Sanders a Democrat? He’s not. He’s a political independent — something that frustrates some Democrats who aren’t fans of his candidacy.
What is Bernie Sanders’s net worth? Why does this sound familiar?
Who is Bernie Sanders? A senator from the state of Vermont, though, as his accent reveals, a native of Brooklyn. In high school, he was a track star.
Businessman Tom Steyer
Who is Tom Steyer? A billionaire businessman who’s been tangentially involved in politics for several years now. In 2014 and 2016, his focus was on electing candidates focused on climate change. Since 2016, his focus has been on President Trump’s ouster.
How did Tom Steyer make his money? Finance. Specifically, hedge funds.
How old is Tom Steyer? Steyer is 62.
Where is Tom Steyer from? Like Sanders, Steyer is from New York City. Fittingly, he is from Manhattan.
How much is Tom Steyer worth? $1.6 billion, enough to give every 2016 voter $11.66.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
How old is Elizabeth Warren? Warren is 70.
How much is Elizabeth Warren worth? Warren and her husband are worth an estimated $12 million, both from real estate and retirement accounts. (Warren may have set aside more for retirement than it seems she’s interested in using.)
Is Elizabeth Warren married? She is. Bruce Mann is a professor at Harvard, as Warren herself once was.
Who is Elizabeth Warren? A senator from Massachusetts and, interestingly, a former Republican. During the financial collapse a decade ago, Warren was a prominent voice in criticizing the failures of the banking industry, leading to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
How did Elizabeth Warren make her money? Warren did private practice legal work while also teaching and has written a number of books.
Businessman Andrew Yang
Who is Andrew Yang? An entrepreneur and attorney who is something of a wild card in the Democratic race.
Is Andrew Yang still running for president? He is. In fact, he’s polling better than a number of established politicians.
How old is Andrew Yang? Yang is 44.
How tall is Andrew Yang? It’s sort of amazing that this is the only instance in which this normally popular question was asked. People seem to have been a lot more curious about how much Democrats are worth than how tall they are.
Anyway, it’s not entirely clear how tall he is. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) says Yang is taller than he is, and Cruz is apparently 5-foot-11.
On this most important question, I lament that I have no answer.