With some electoral results finally in the bag, the 2020 Democrats are taking the stage in Las Vegas for the ninth time — with some new faces, front-runners, and dropouts since the candidates debated earlier this month in New Hampshire. As the campaigns make last-minute arrangements before the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, expect the candidates to make some final appeals to electability and to increase the barbs lobbed at each other as they push to make the 15 percent viability threshold in the Silver State. Here’s everything you need to know to tune in tonight.
What time is the debate and where is it streaming?
Held at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas, the two-hour debate will air on NBC and MSNBC from 9-11 p.m. It can be streamed at NBCNews.com and MSNBC.com, as well as at the website of the Nevada Independent, which is co-hosting the debate. Noticias Telemundo is also streaming the event in Spanish on its Facebook page.
Who’s in and who’s out?
Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar are all returning from the last debate, while Andrew Yang is out after suspending his campaign on the night of the New Hampshire primary. Tom Steyer will sit this one out too, after failing to earn a delegate in Iowa or New Hampshire, and not making the polling cut. But for fans of America’s emerging plutocracy, there will be a billionaire on the stage on Wednesday: After a national poll released early on Tuesday showed Michael Bloomberg with 19 percent support, the former New York City mayor qualified for his first debate.
Who is moderating?
The debate will have five moderators: NBC anchor Lester Holt, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, NBC News White House correspondent Hallie Jackson, Noticias Telemundo correspondent Vanessa Hauc, and the Nevada Independent editor Jon Ralston.
What to watch for in Las Vegas
The most obvious new factor in the ninth debate is the presence of Michael Bloomberg. Expect most of the primary veterans to come after the lucratively self-financed newcomer and his former status as a Republican, allegations of misogyny, and his support of stop and frisk — all of which has been under increased scrutiny in recent weeks. Already, Senator Klobuchar has said that his presence at the debate would serve as an opportunity for him to face up to his record. “I don’t think you should be able to hide behind airwaves and huge ad buys,” Klobuchar said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg will attempt to leverage their strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire into further momentum nationwide — even if polling in Nevada and South Carolina suggests limited support moving forward in the primary. With disappointing finishes so far, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are expected to be more aggressive toward the other candidates, looking to cull support from the Buttigieg or Sanders camps. And Sanders will make the case that he is the primary front-runner who can handle Bloomberg’s massive spending in Super Tuesday states, then Trump beyond — a status in the field that’s reflected in his strong polling in Nevada.
How many more of these things are there?
At least two: CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus will host the tenth debate in Charleston, South Carolina, next Tuesday, February 25 — ahead of the state’s primary on February 29. There’s also a debate scheduled for March 15 in Phoenix, Arizona, to be hosted by CNN, Univision, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. A 12th primary debate is also possible, depending on how crowded the field still looks come late March.