DES MOINES, Iowa -- Watch parties have become common gatherings for the Democratic Debates, but the Iowa Women for Progressive Change group tried to switch things up for the fifth debate Wednesday night.
Board members Andrea Dencklau and Luana Nelson-Brown said they were previously disappointed in the format of the last four debates. Their group did not previously host watch parties, but they wanted voters to engage in the conversation that was happening on stage.
As the debates have few commercial breaks, group leaders made a point to pause the program and have a discussion about what was going on.
"Who is getting talked over, who is getting their time cut off, who is ignoring issues? Who is paying attention to marginalized communities? Are the women speaking less?" Nelson Brown said.
The debate was hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post in Atlanta and had ten candidates on stage, and was the first all-female moderator board so far.
During group discussions, audience members said they noticed a difference in the types of questions being asked, and attributed it to the female panel of journalists.
"I think different voices are being represented just by having women," one woman in the group said during the discussion.
"Diversity in the Democratic Party is a big hot button issue but it’s not really being discussed," Nelson-Brown said. "The questions [in the previous debates] aren’t pulling that out, the moderators aren’t pulling that out but the candidates of color aren’t really able to expound on the issues."
Dencklau said previous debates have focused on other policy issues like healthcare and the gun debate, but she said she wants to hear more about social issues.
"We don’t talk a lot about racism and how its permeating everything in our country and how so many social issues go back to that," she said. "I want to ask candidates what they will do specifically in healthcare when it comes to race equity and social justice."
At the end of Wednesday's debate, Nelson-Brown said she was satisfied with the types of questions and topics that were debated, and felt as though more issues she cares about were brought to the table.