Sabato's Crystal Ball

Kicking Off the Debate Season

Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley, Sabato's Crystal Ball August 6th, 2015

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Welcome to Debate Day! Finally, voters and analysts will get to see one party’s field (or at least, some of it) take the stage to duke it out in primetime. The main GOP debate participant list is set, as is that of the warm-up confab for the seven Republicans who failed to make the top 10 in an average of recent national polls (a statistically dubious criterion).

The Crystal Ball’s Kyle Kondik will be in Cleveland and tweeting observations throughout the day at @kkondik, while Larry J. Sabato (@LarrySabato) and Geoffrey Skelley (@geoffreyvs) will also be tracking both events on Thursday.

We have some short thoughts about the debate, but first we wanted to follow up on our piece last week on the lengthy history of primary debates. We knew we might overlook a debate or two while compiling our list, and it appears that we may have missed at least one — a March 5, 1972 Democratic primary debate at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Sources conflict as to whether or not it was nationally televised — most of the debates we included aired widely — but thanks to long-time political watcher and Dallas Morning News columnist Carl Leubsdorf for alerting us to this event. The best part? He knew about the debate because he was actually there.

As for tonight’s 10-person showdown, here are a few points to ponder: