02:20 - Source: CNN
What it takes to qualify for the 2020 Democratic debates
Washington CNN —  

The stage is set for the first series of Democratic debates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont will be at the center of the stage during the Thursday night debate in Miami next week, according to NBC, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas will be at the center of next week’s Wednesday night debate.

The layout decisions were determined by polling, according to NBC, the Democratic National Committee’s media partner for the first debates.

Campaigns closely follow which candidates will be standing next to whom during each debate. Operatives view the placements as central to how much time their candidates will get during the contests, in the belief that candidates near the center will get more time.

Operatives also see whom each candidate is placed next to as central to whether one candidate can make the other a focal point of attacks during the two-hour-long contests.

On the first night, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey will be next to Warren, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will be next to O’Rourke.

On the second night, which is more heavily weighted with candidates who are polling better nationally and in the early-primary states, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be standing next to Biden, while Sen. Kamala Harris of California is next to Sanders.

The fact that O’Rourke will be at the center of the debate stage is a boon for the former congressman, considering that he is polling below a host of candidates who were placed – by random draw – on the second night.

Here is the layout of each night of debates from left to right:

Wednesday, June 26

Bill de Blasio

Tim Ryan

Julian Castro

Cory Booker

Elizabeth Warren

Beto O’Rourke

Amy Klobuchar

Tulsi Gabbard

Jay Inslee

John Delaney

Thursday, June 27

Marianne Williamson

John Hickenlooper

Andrew Yang

Pete Buttigieg

Joe Biden

Bernie Sanders

Kamala Harris

Kirsten Gillibrand

Michael Bennet

Eric Swalwell