Another democratic debate: what to expect

Nathan A. Halm and Nathan A. Halm

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, The Washington Post and MSNBC will be hosting the fifth Democratic Presidential Primary Debate. This debate will see 10 Democratic candidates take the stage, down from 12 in October. Among the candidates in this debate, the clear front-runners are Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg. 

Mayor Buttigieg has recently been surging in Iowa, the first caucus state of the 2020 primaries, even surpassing Warren with Biden and Sanders tied in third in the last week, according to’s Iowa polling averages. 

The main goal of this November debate will be to establish the four front runners as separate from the rest of the pack. Pete Buttigieg specifically will be looking to cement himself as a leading candidate for the first time according to polling, a tremendous opportunity for the 37-year-old gay veteran. 

Besides Mayor Pete, Senator Sanders will also be looking to push into Biden’s descent and Warren’s recent stalling. Biden has steadily been declining since the start of fall, making several blunders throughout his campaign, which sources, such as Politico, have reported on numerous times. 

Warren has also been stagnating and even falling in some recent November polls. Despite this, she has been running effective campaign ads against the wealthy and powerful much to the chagrin of the targeted groups and this has given her campaign an added anti-elite energy. 

Senator Sanders has had a strong, yet slow, climb after receiving endorsements from the, “Squad” : Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Talib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Both Sanders and Buttigieg will be looking to take advantage of Biden’s slips and Warren’s falling support and Warren and Biden will be looking to reverse the trend and get back on top. 

As to the topics discussed in this debate expect another lengthy discussion on health care policy, gun-control legislation, immigration reform and hopefully climate change. Climate change was noticeably absent from the last debate much to the disappointment to many voters and political commentators. The candidates on the fringes, Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar seem to have the most following past the top four. They would need to perform exceedingly well in this debate in order to make an impact on polling and stand a chance in February. 

Overall, look for the progressive candidates, Sanders and Warren, to spar with the moderate wing, Biden, Buttigieg and even Klobuchar. The question of the debate will be how Buttigieg presents himself as progressive enough to get the support from Sanders and Warren supporters but also Biden’s fleeting base. Sanders will want to cement himself as more progressive than Warren whilst focusing most attention to the two moderates. It should be an interesting one. The debate is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. and go until 11 p.m.