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Democratic debate debut: How did they do?

The first debates of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary season take place Wednesday and Thursday nights on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

The field is so large and the candidates so wide-ranging in experience and policy views that the Democratic National Committee set polling and donation criteria that 20 candidates met. A random selection was used to divide the candidates into two groups that would include high-profile contenders with serious potential along with less-known ones looking to catch lightning in a bottle or bring attention to their signature issues.

To evaluate the debate performance of these disparate candidates, members of the Newsday editorial board will rank each contender in three categories on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the best. These ratings are not endorsements of any candidate or his or her views; rather, they are a measure of how well the candidates contribute to the national discussion.

We will do the rankings on both nights.

You can join us in this process. Pick your debate winner and tell us why here.


Did the candidate offer specific ideas and how effectively did he or she present them?


How well did the candidate respond to critiques by fellow contenders and questions from moderators?


Did the candidate make a compelling case for his or her ability to be a good president?

Elizabeth Warren won the night with 109 stars out of a possible 120, with Julian Castro coming in second at 101 and Cory Booker third with 91.

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator, Massachusetts

Beto O’Rourke

Former U.S. Representative, Texas

Cory Booker

U.S. Senator, New Jersey

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senator, Minnesota

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. Representative, Hawaii

Julian Castro

Former HUD Secretary

Tim Ryan

U.S. Representative, Ohio

Jay Inslee

Governor, Washington

Bill de Blasio

Mayor, NYC

John Delaney

Former U.S. Representative, Maryland