That question remains to be answered and it depends on whether any formidable challenger to Hillary Clinton emerges in the next few months. The plan, if nothing goes wrong for Team Hillary, is to lockup the nomination by summer and avoid any serious challenges from the left. If that happens, will there even be a case where Democrats hold primary debates?
Excerpt from this Politico on Hillary’s 2016 plans:
Clinton will enter the Democratic race with a bang — and virtually no opposition to speak of. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who could mount a serious campaign from the left, has said she won’t run, and is making no behind-the-scenes preparations. Vice President Joe Biden says he might very well run — but mainly wants his name in the mix in case Clinton implodes.
This leaves a trio of long shots with scant money: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.
The potential opposition is so weak that Clinton might wind up not even debating during the primaries, which many Democrats view as a mixed blessing. [Emphasis added]
The Clinton team knows it can’t campaign with the swagger of a presumptive nominee because the air of inevitability was so damaging last time around. That said, some advisers are already privately talking up potential running mates, with Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tim Kaine of Virginia dominating the early speculation.
It begs the question, under what circumstances would the Democratic National Commitee simply decide to schedule no debates? Let’s follow the scenario. If Warren passes as does Biden, that leaves the others. If any of them can’t get past 5% in a primary poll, is there reason to hold a debate, especially when Hillary’s campaign will be pushing to avoid it? On the other hand, if Hillary’s support erodes to under 50% and some of the outliers gain a little traction, we will likely see a handful of Democrats on a stage before the primaries.
Then again, does the DNC want to risk severely angering the base? Many of the 50% who would pick someone besides Hillary will assuredly demand she gets on stage and defends her platform so as to avoid taking the nomination for granted.