The verdict is in: Our readers really, really love Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Whether it's her detailed policy plans or the fact that she's moved up to a second-place tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders in national polls, the Massachusetts senator is by far the candidate you want to hear from most in the first Democratic primary debates on Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27, according to our recent reader survey.
When asked, "Which candidate are you most excited to hear from?" 55% of Refinery29 readers chose Warren, while 15% chose Sen. Kamala Harris and 15% chose Sanders. The rest were evenly divided among other candidates, while one reader said, "I still don't have an exact preference except Not Biden, so I'm watching this debate to better inform my opinion."
Having made several very public missteps, including flip-flopping on the Hyde Amendment and boasting about his camaraderie with segregationist senators, Biden, while still the frontrunner, seems to appeal to older voters much more than the under-35 crowd. About 40% of the around 50 readers who responded to our survey were 18-24, 43% were 25-35, and 17% were 36 or older.
Warren has seen her momentum growing according to several recent polls, and strategists are expecting her to garner a lot of attention during the first of the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) 12 scheduled debates for the 2020 election, when 20 candidates (divided among two nights) will compete for national attention.
"It's becoming clear to voters that Elizabeth Warren is the most electable Democrat we could put up against Trump," Stephanie Taylor, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Voters are inspired by her personal story of struggle growing up in Oklahoma and how she connects that to her big-picture worldview of fighting for everyday people and challenging power. Voters can picture Warren crushing Trump on the debate stage. As voters hear more from Biden and Warren, the trajectory is clear: Warren is on the rise."
Women could make up 60% of the Democratic electorate in 2020, and will likely be key swing voters. And according to our survey, which had about 80% female responders, most (about 80%) will be tuning in to this week's debates. This means the first debates will be pivotal when it comes to establishing the candidates that will eventually stand out among the crowd, as well as important in setting the tone for which issues will be front-and-center during the campaign to beat President Donald Trump.
Climate change is the top issue readers said they want candidates to address, at 28%, followed by abortion and reproductive rights at 19%, the economy and immigration at 11% each, and healthcare at 6%.
Given the big push among activists and others to talk about the pressing issue of climate change, it's unsurprising that so many want it to take center stage in the debates. As far as reproductive rights, with 378 abortion restrictions introduced nationwide between January 1 and May 20 of this year alone, and an unprecedented number of bans being passed around the country, many readers are scared that their rights will be taken away and will be tuning in to watch which Democrat has the strongest plan to get these rights back.
Other issues readers mentioned included gun reform, criminal justice reform, the Iran conflict, Puerto Rican and D.C. statehood, and student debt. One reader answered, "Concentration camps on the border and how fast they'll shut that shit down," which is also unsurprising considering the horrific reports about the conditions of migrants in detention at the U.S.-Mexico border and the promises of candidates such as Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro to reform the immigration system.