“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” which opens this week, has a run time of 2 hours and 21 minutes.
A doubleheader, then, clocks in at close to five hours.
Who would want to spend an evening that way?
Someone who can’t miss the debate and who wants to see the conclusion of the so-called “Skywalker saga” as soon as it’s in theaters.
Someone like Andrew Yang.
Mr. Yang, the entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate who will be on the debate stage Thursday, announced this week that donors could win a trip to Los Angeles to join him for a screening of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” after the debate.
Mr. Yang’s devotees responded with enthusiastic memes, with some depicting the candidate as a Jedi, and the campaign said Thursday that the event raised around $100,000.
Erick Sanchez, Mr. Yang’s traveling press secretary, said the timing of the new “Star Wars” movie release and debate night was serendipitous and gave Mr. Yang the chance to do two things he enjoys — meet voters and watch science fiction. “We certainly can’t think of a better way to celebrate after Andrew uses the force on the stage,” he said.
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Other candidates haven’t shied away from weaving some George Lucas fandom into their own efforts.
Senator Cory Booker is a dedicated “Star Trek” fan — he rewatched every “Star Trek: Voyager” episode before officially joining the 2020 race — but the Booker campaign said it’s planning a “Star Wars” viewing for some point during its Iowa tour this weekend.
Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders have made T-shirts depicting him as Luke Skywalker himself. And in San Jacinto, Calif., Sanders volunteers are planning to canvass on Friday at a local movie theater, making a pitch for the candidate they call “Obi Bern Kenobi.”
David Sirota, a Sanders campaign speechwriter who liberally peppers his writings with “Star Wars” references, texted in response to an inquiry about the debate and movie schedule overlap that “Bernie’s campaign is a Star Wars story.” He added that as vested interests, including a super PAC that supports former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., “have tried to strike him down, polls have shown Bernie and his working-class movement have become more powerful than they can possibly imagine.”
He also tweeted what he said was a response to those who do not believe Mr. Sanders’s high poll numbers: a clip from “The Empire Strikes Back” of Yoda telling a disbelieving Luke, “That is why you fail.”
Some candidates’ “Star Wars” references are a bit more subtle: The 404 error page for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign website includes an iconic paraphrase from Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Stephen Benedict Dyson, a professor of political science at the University of Connecticut and the author of “Otherworldly Politics: The International Relations of Star Trek, Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica,” said that he saw parallels between certain candidates’ styles and the directorial decisions made in this most recent cycle of films.
“He almost entirely appealed to nostalgia,” he said of director J.J. Abrams’s choices in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” “That’s Joe Biden’s pitch. The danger with that approach is if you go to the well too many times. Sometimes people want something new and something different.”
On the other hand, he said 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was a “very iconoclastic movie” where director Rian Johnson sought to smash established conventions. “It’s not a battle between the aristocracy,” he said, “but between ordinary people. That seems like Bernie.”
Mr. Dyson said he has tickets to an 8:30 p.m. showing of “The Rise of Skywalker” Thursday. He’ll therefore miss most of the debate and will catch highlights later.
Greg Johnson, director of sales and marketing at Flix Brewhouse in Des Moines, where voters will caucus in less than six weeks, says that there are rabid fans of both politics and “Star Wars,” but he doesn’t expect there to be much conflict between screenings and the debate.
“We believe this will be the second largest Thursday night opening of 2019, behind only “Avengers: Endgame,” he said. “I expect there to be a lot of people DVR’ing the debate for when they get home tonight.”
Marc Tracy contributed reporting.