January Democratic debate is tonight: Everything you need to know

January Democratic debate is tonight: Everything you need to know

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The seventh Democratic debate, and the first of 2020, takes place tonight, less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, with only six candidates taking the stage.

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When, where, and how to watch: The debate, co-hosted by CNN and The Des Moines Register, will be broadcast live from 9 to 11 p.m. EST today from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. It will be moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Abby Phillip, as well as The Des Moines Register's Brianne Pfannenstiel.

You can watch the debate, without needing a subscription or log-in, on CNN.com and desmoinesregister.com. It will also be live on CNN and CNN International and streamed on all CNN iOS, Android, Apple,  Roku, and Chromecast apps.

Who's in and who's out? Only six out of the twelve remaining candidates met the threshold required for the debate, including former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), billionaire executive Tom Steyer, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

January's average polling was used to determine where the candidates will stand on stage, with the highest-polling one in the center.

This time, the candidates needed at least 5% in four DNC-approved polls, nationally or in one of the four early states, or 7% in early state polls. They also needed to receive contributions from 225,000 unique donors. The candidates who will not participate are Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland. Patrick.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) dropped out of the race on Monday, citing financial difficulties, as we reported at LaCorte News.

What to expect: Given recent tensions with Iran, foreign policy is expected to almost certainly be a topic of discussion on the stage, as well as the Trump administration's decision to assassinate Iranian Gen. Soleimani. Buttigieg might tout his own military experience as a US Navy Reserves veteran, Biden could point to his work on international deals and policies under Obama and before that as a Senator, but risks taking heat for voting in 2002 to give then-President George W. Bush authority to use military force in Iraq.

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The upcoming Senate impeachment trial might prompt senators, who will have fewer opportunities to speak to voters once it begins, to take a more aggressive approach, particularly Klobuchar, who's been fighting for a breakthrough in recent months. Tom Steyer is also expected to make his voice heard, given his recent struggle to draw supporters.

Warren and Sanders, whose campaigns recently sparred over the Vermont senator's campaign memo instructing volunteers on how to speak to supporters of his rivals, might clash over health care. Sanders could use Warren's vulnerability in light of the criticism she has received for her Medicare for All plan. She has "dialed back her support" for the proposal, Kyle Kondik, a political forecaster, told TIME.

Sanders might take some additional hits,  due to his rise in polls and donations. “I think there’s a lot of nervousness, much like in 2016, about the Sanders campaign. I think a lot of party regulars are just scared… to death of Sanders maybe getting the nomination." Moderates “might have decided they have to go after Sanders at this point to try and stem his momentum," Mack Shelley, the chair of the political science department at Iowa State University, said.

Buttigieg will need to appease to Iowa voters after support in the state slipped in recent weeks, despite having a strong start, from 25% to 16% in the latest CNN/Des Moines Register poll.

What happens next? February will see three primary debates, ending the once-a-month debate schedule. ABC, WMUR and Apple News will host the first on Feb. 7 at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. The second will be hosted by NBC and MSNBC on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, and the third, hosted by CBS News, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and Twitter, will be held on Feb. 25 in Charleston, South Carolina.

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