Split card will provide lower-tiered Democratic candidates opportunities to gain name recognition against top-tier

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The first debate of the Democratic Party’s nominating contest will be interesting for two reasons, said Northwestern University political scientist Alvin Tillery, one, there’s never been a Democratic field so large that it necessitated splitting the fields over two days.

“This split card will provide the lower-tiered candidates with a precious opportunity to score points and gain name recognition against the top-tier candidates -- Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris,” Tillery said.

Northwestern political scientist Jaime Dominguez said, “The Democratic Party must wrestle away the immigration issue from the GOP and the Trump administration.”

Both Dominguez and Tillery are available to comment on this week’s Democratic debates.

Alvin Tillery is an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of American politics and political theory. His research in American politics focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics. He can be reached at [email protected].

Quote from Professor Tillery

“For these (lower-tiered) candidates, going on offense and generating a viral video clip could boost their chances to raise funds and stay in the fight for the next round of debates. For the top-tier candidates, we can expect a prevent-defense strategy. In other words, their main goal will be to echo the priorities of the base and not give the other candidates in the top-tier an opening to score points against them.

“This will be particularly important for former Vice President Joe Biden, who has already demonstrated his old tendencies to generate gaffes with his recent comments declaring continued support for the Hyde Amendment and praising his history working with Mississippi’s notorious white supremacist senator James Eastland. For Biden, it will be important to show greater discipline and humility as he engages with his critics during the debate.” 

Jaime Dominguez is an assistant professor of instruction in the department of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. His teaching and research focuses on race and ethnicity, immigration, urban politics, Latino politics and Chicago politics. He can be reached at j-dominguez@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Dominguez

“The candidate that can offer the most articulate and coherent policy prescription in dealing with the border crisis will make gains with Democratic voters. The more concrete the resolution, the better. Also, President Trump can be a subtext to what’s wrong with the current political context but not front and center.” 

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