What You Need to Know About the 5th Democratic Debate

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NBC News Sponsors The Fourth Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate
It should look something like this. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/© 2016 Bloomberg Finance LP

If you’re a Democrat who’s still hopelessly torn between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, we have some good news: The DNC has added many more debates, the first of which airs tonight on MSNBC. How will this debate be different from all the previous Democratic forums? Well, for starters, it’s not taking place in the middle of a holiday weekend. Here’s a guide to get you up to speed, and be sure to tune in later for Daily Intelligencer’s liveblog and complete coverage of the debate.

When and where is the debate being held?
Thursday at 9 p.m. EST at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

Why is this debate being held?
Because no was happy with the debate schedule created by the Democratic National Committee, which seemed designed to ensure that voters wouldn’t watch them. Sanders and O’Malley supporters alleged that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz set the bizarre schedule to benefit Clinton, and she was initially resistant to holding more debates (in addition to two scheduled to take place on February 11 and March 9). After negotiations with the Democratic campaigns, on Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz announced that the DNC has agreed to sanction four more debates, bringing the total number in this election cycle to ten. There will be a debate in Flint, Michigan, in March, and the Washington Post reports that the two additional debates will take place in Pennsylvania in April and in California in May.

How can I watch it?
If you don’t have cable, you can watch a livestream of the debate on NBCNews.com and MSNBC.com, or the networks’ apps. You can also follow along on social media with the hashtag #DemDebate (which has nothing to do with #DemBabies, though Mariah Carey is a Hillary supporter).

Who will be there?
Just Sanders and Clinton. As you may or may not have noticed, Martin O’Malley dropped out of the race shortly after the Iowa caucus results came in.

Who’s moderating?
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who fought for more Democratic debates. The New Hampshire Union Leader will also pitch in.

How are the candidates preparing?
With a quasi-debate that aired on CNN Wednesday night. During the New Hampshire town hall, Clinton and Sanders disputed whether she’s actually a “progressive who likes to get things done,” as she’s fond of saying (though they were never onstage together).

Will there be a lot of fighting?
This is the first time the candidates will go head-to-head without having to deal with O’Malley attempting to speak. But the chances of Sanders calling Clinton a “maniac” or her attempting to argue that Americans born to Polish immigrants aren’t eligible to run for president are extremely slim. Then again, they essentially tied in Iowa; Clinton needs to shoot up about 20 points by Tuesday if she wants to win New Hampshire, and Sanders has taken to posting things like this on Twitter:

The 5th Democratic Debate: What You Need to Know