Twelve Democratic Candidates For President Will Debate Tues. Night - But Who's Watching?

Oct 15, 2019

Twelve of the Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential race will take the debate stage Tuesday evening, but Maine political scientists say few voters are paying much attention.

Studies have shown most voters don’t focus on the race for president until a few weeks before the election — which in this case is more than a year away.

Mark Brewer is a political science professor at the University of Maine.

“The vast majority of voters are not paying any attention to politics in general or these democratic debates more specifically,” he says.

But the debates can affect how candidates fare in the primaries, since party activists and potential primary voters are more likely to tune in, experts say.

James Melcher is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine, Farmington. “Most of the public won’t show up for those primaries but the kind of people who do show up for them are the people who are watching,” Melcher says. “For a lot of people, it’s Nyahh, but for the people that matter, I think people are starting to pay attention.”

March 3, Maine will hold its first Democratic presidential primary since 2000.