Democratic Presidential Debate In Atlanta Nov. 20: Who Made Cut

ATLANTA, GA — Two candidates have dropped out of the race and impeachment hearings have begun since Democratic presidential candidates last debated. The fifth debate among the party’s frontrunners to challenge President Donald Trump will be at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. Moderators include Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker; the Washington Post and MSNBC will co-host the event.

Who’s the frontrunner coming into the debate depends on which poll you study. An average of national polls by RealClear Politics puts former Vice President Joe Biden in the lead with 27 percent support, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 20 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 18 percent and Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 8 percent.

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But in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus polling, a new Iowa Poll released Sunday shows Buttigieg has surged to the front of the pack and holds a commanding lead among likely Democratic caucusgoers in the test of presidential strength on Feb. 3. The poll showed the 37-year-old mayor from South Bend, Indiana, is currently the first choice of 25 percent of Democrats who say they plan to attend the caucuses. Buttigieg’s support rose 16 percent from the last poll in September. The three previous frontrunners in Iowa — Massachusetts Sen. Warren, Vermont Sen. Sanders and Biden — are in a virtual tie for second place.

While health care and impeachment are likely topics for Wednesday’s debate, racial and social justice are likly to come up during the debate because it’s taking place in Atlanta, Time magazine reports. John Hudak, a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, said that Harris and Biden might be expected to defend their “tough on crime” criminal justice policies, which critics have argued makes the problem of mass incarceration worse.

According to NBC News, to qualify for this debate, candidates needed to have at least 165,000 unique donors in grassroots fundraising. They also needed to do well in the polls by either reaching 3 percent in four national or state polls or reaching 5 percent in two polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Ten candidates appear to have qualified for this month’s debate, NBC News reported: Biden, Warren, Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Buttigieg, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

After the last debate in October, there are two fewer Democratic candidates. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro didn’t qualify, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke ended his candidacy, CBS News reported.

According to CNN, the Democratic presidential candidates include “the most racial minorities ever,” although four white candidates continue to lead in state and national polls. Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg have raised more money than any other candidate in the field.

Issues range from criminal justice to cybersecurity. Politico put together a comprehensive guide on the issues and where each candidate stands. Potential debate topics include candidates’ plans to expand access to health care, U.S. trade talks with China and the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, CNBC reported.

According to TIME, political scientists and analysts say that the House’s impeachment inquiry into the president likely will come up, especially since the impeachment hearings will continue into the week.

“The fact that a Senate impeachment trial could occur shortly before or even during the early presidential primaries and caucuses might be important,” Seth Masket, a professor of political science at the University of Denver, told TIME by email. “The candidates who are in the Senate could be asked what they’d do in that situation.”

The candidates’ different health care proposals and how they’ll pay for them is an expected topic to come up, too, TIME reported, after Warren released her plan to pay for Medicare for All in early November. The $20.5 trillion proposal drew significant attention. Other issues such as immigration, taxes and gun control likely will be discussed as well.

Real Clear Politics polling average shows Biden leading the Democratic presidential race nationally, with Warren and Sanders close behind him.

A polling average looking at date between 10/30 -11/17 shows Biden in the lead. (Real Clear Politics)

According to NBC News, Gabbard hit the final poll numbers needed to make the debate stage Wednesday, according to the news organization’s unofficial count. The deadline for candidates to qualify was one week before the debate.

The debate will be broken into four segments and will include three commercial breaks, the television network reported. There will be no opening statements.

Each candidate will have 75 seconds to answer questions posed to them and 45 seconds for follow-ups at the moderators’ discretion. Candidates should be able to respond if they’re referred to by name by another candidate, but that also will be at the moderators’ discretion, the announcement said.

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