As we await the beginning of tonight’s debate, let’s note a gleaming irony. Sanders backers (and O’Malley’s backer) have been complaining for months that the DNC kept the number of debates to a minimum and scheduled them at odd times to benefit Hillary Clinton, the most known candidate and prohibitive frontrunner, who has had and continues to have overwhelming establishment support. It’s not terribly surprising that the DNC would do this, considering the desire to avoid a lengthy primary season and the near unanimous support she has enjoyed among Democratic elected officials. Doesn’t mean it’s fair. But it’s hardly surprising.
And yet, that mild tipping of the scales now looks like it may be hurting Clinton. Clinton has done quite well in the debates – both in subjective terms (what I or other people might think) in objective terms. She’s performed strongly and seen her poll numbers benefit after the debates. That means she’d probably be benefiting from even more debates. She could use a high profile debate right now in fact. But here we are with a 9pm debate on Sunday on a long holiday weekend. Other than scheduling one on New Year’s Eve or 3 O’Clock in the morning, it’s hard to know how you could limit viewership any more than that.