When you compare the Dem debates to the spectacles being put on by the GOP, it’s really not all that surprising that Donald Trump and the other clowns are pulling in larger audiences from our reality-TV-obsessed nation. I mean, listening to actual substance and policy is not nearly as entertaining as watching bickering and bloviating. But why are the Dems purposefully making the viewing audience even smaller?
Saturday night the Democrats held their final debate of 2015 on ABC. And according to Nielson, a little more than 6.7 million people tuned in. But while the Dem debate did easily win their Saturday evening time slot, they didn’t even come close to the 18 million viewers that the Republican debate got this week.
Now certainly, part of the reason the Republican debates are pulling in such bigger audiences is because of Donald Trump and the other neo-Con candidates who have turned their debates into more of a Jerry Springer episode than anything resembling an intelligent conversation befitting a President of the United States. It also seems that the Democratic party itself has made a calculated decision to not only limit the schedule to 6 debates, but they’ve also chosen to hold 3 of those 6 on weekends where the viewing audience is traditionally at its smallest.
By comparison, the Republicans have 12 debates scheduled with only 2 slated for the weekend.
And even if these Dem debates hadn’t been scheduled on Saturdays that coincided with the last Saturday before Christmas, or in the middle of three-day weekends, or on a Sunday of NFL playoffs, or the same weekend of the opening of Star Wars, all we really need to do is take a quick look at history (or use freaking common sense) to tell us how insane it is to schedule the debates like this….well, if the goal is to have Americans watch, that is. Since the 2000 election cycle there have been 100 debates…only 7 of them fell on Saturdays.
So what gives?
Many people believe that Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC has scheduled the debates this way on purpose to protect Hillary Clinton. The idea being that the less TV exposure she has the fewer chances the Democratic front runner has to make careless or costly mistakes like she did back in 2008.
If this indeed is the reason for the terrible schedule, then my guess is that back when they made it they were far more worried about a challenge from Joe Biden than from any other Dem candidate. I say that because Biden is really the only establishment candidate that could pull Hillary’s voters in mass and do the kind of damage to her polling numbers early on in the same way that Obama did in ’08.
But this strategy is taking a huge gamble for several reasons.
First of all exposing the Dem debates to such a small audience risks any chance of momentum or excitement for Hillary or any of the other Dem candidates. Especially when the media is so consumed with covering every little aspect of the GOP. The country is tuning in big time to see what Trump and the other nuts are going to say next, but most people have absolutely no idea what is going on with the Dems.
The Repub candidates are also getting a lot more experience and practice debating on a national stage. By the time the general election debates roll around, if a candidate like Rubio gets the nomination he will be well rehearsed and likely ready to take on anything Clinton has to throw at him. Truthfully this Dem debate schedule makes it look like the DNC doesn’t have much confidence in Hillary’s abilities….well, if the real reason for the schedule was to protect her from self-destruction, that is.
Or Brilliant Strategy?
Now here’s why I actually don’t think this is about protecting Hillary from making stupid mistakes at all….
One reason the Dem debates may have been scheduled as they were might be because the DNC wanted to prevent any kind of over-saturation of a candidate like Hillary. With so few Dem candidates, there is a real potential for the country to be sick and tired of her long before it’s time to cast ballots in November.
Another benefit of fewer debates is that the candidates have less opportunity to beat each other up. This leaves the Republicans with far less ammunition to pull from the left when it’s time to go head to head in the general.
But the real reason that this may end up being a genius plan is that Hillary is a much better candidate than she was back in 2008. MUCH better. And the fact that most people haven’t yet realized this makes her strength akin to a secret weapon. The truth is, Hillary has been extraordinary in every debate so far. No matter which Dem candidate is your favorite, it’s hard to deny that after each debate she is the one who came away looking the most presidential.
My guess is that whoever ends up getting the Republican nomination and has to go up against her in the general debates will be blown out of the water. And the best part is that they will never see it coming.