Democratic Debate Watch Parties—And Drinking Games—Are a Thing
Watching the 2019 Democratic debates on TV from your living room is not for everyone. There’s nothing like shouting at a giant screen with a wine glass in one hand, a chili chicken wing in the other, and 200 new friends nearby at a bar or party.
While the top fundraising and top-polling candidates of the largest ever field of Democratic presidential hopefuls prepares for this week’s debates, restaurants, residents, and even railway staffers, are getting ready to host political parties of a social kind.
Debate watch parties have become a thing.
On Eventbrite alone, more than 1,000 people from the Bay Area to the Big Apple are registered to attend Democratic debate watch parties, according to the ticketing and event technology platform.
“There’s increasingly a blurring of lines between political and social gatherings, where civic duties like voting and following the presidential race are becoming shared activities rather than private ones,” Tamara Mendelsohn, vice president and general manager of consumer at Eventbrite, told Fortune in an email.
“Last November, around the midterm elections, the search term ‘election party’ on Eventbrite became a top trending search in cities including NYC, LA, and DC,” Mendelsohn said.
She didn’t lie.
Some of the trending searches on social media on Tuesday included: debate watch party near me and democratic debate drinking game.
And while it might be fun to watch the unofficial launch into the 2020 White House race at a soiree, there also are social and societal benefits to debate watch parties, according to Eventbrite.
Debate watch parties are about more than gaining validation from others for your impressions of the candidates. More than 75% of attendees at previous political events told Eventbrite researchers that their respective gatherings made them want to participate more in politics, the company said. Also, political eventgoers are more than twice as likely than the average American to give money or volunteer for a candidate, party or group, Eventbrite said.
The themes of this year’s Democratic debate watch parties reflect the diversity of Americans.
In San Francisco, political junkies will be able to watch Democrats go toe to toe while downing “political cocktails” alongside drag queens at the “First Democratic Debate Watch Party” at Manny’s. At MIST Harlem, a restaurant and nightclub that has become a community meeting place for New Yorkers, debate night ticket holders will be able to watch the verbal sparring on “three huge screens” with “$5 happy hour bar,” and “$10 Menu Specials.” Groups like “Pumps and Politics” and “Silicon Harlem” are part of the host committee.
At the vintage-styled 1306 Miami lounge, debate watchers will be able to sample Cuban sandwiches, pastelitos, empanadas, and alcohol on night one of the debates. The debate watch party organized by She the People, an organization advancing female candidates of color, and The New Florida Majority, an organization that advocates for legislative and social inclusivity, will include a happy hour, a panel on timely issues hosted by She the People founder Aimee Allison and, of course, the 2019 Democratic debate on a big screen.
“It’s really to visualize the leadership of women of color in politics,” Andrea Mercado, executive director of the New Florida Majority, told Fortune.
All the Democratic candidates taking part in the debates were invited to the 1306 Miami event and a handful promised to stop by, but the organizers are not saying which ones. They are hoping they’ll elevate issues affecting women in the country.
“Women of color vote at some of the highest rates in the country but oftentimes, our leadership is not recognized. This is a moment to really celebrate that,” Mercado said. “We want to let the candidates know that we’re expecting to hear bold solutions.”
And of course not everyone watching the debates is rooting for Democrats. If you’re supporting the Republican party and the country’s sitting president, and the debate excitement is giving you stress and anxiety, then maybe something like a ride on the Trump Train is for you. Unfortunately, the actual ride organized by Team Trump Broward, an entity of the Florida Atlantic Conservative Team, is sold out, but perhaps you can support them in spirit.
The train will travel from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to the Miami debate site, at which point train participants will team up with other Trump supporters to protest outside of the debate.
“Our passengers are all dedicated supports of President Trump and in opposition to the radical socialist agenda that will be advocated in (Wednesday’s) Democratic presidential debate,” Robert Sutton, president of the Florida Atlantic Conservative Team and chair of Trump 2020 Broward told Fortune.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—Democratic debate watch parties—and drinking games—are a thing
—Meet the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates you’ve (probably) never heard of
—Issues that divide 2020 candidates going into the first Democratic debate
—These are the top-polling Democratic candidates
—The 2019 Democratic debate clashes you won’t get to see
—What to know About the 2019 Democratic debate: start time, schedule, format