Everything you need to know about tonight’s Democratic presidential debate

by | Oct 15, 2019 | 2020 Elections, Politics

On Tuesday evening, 12 Democratic presidential candidates will face off in yet another primary debate. 

The fourth debate of the year will take place in Westerville, Ohio, near the state capital of Columbus. It will be broadcast by CNN and begin at 7 p.m. Central.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Texans. Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro will have to try to continue to steal the spotlight from some of the leading candidates. That’s especially true for Castro, who has yet to qualify for the next debate in November and has been sending out fundraising emails warning that his campaign may be over if he’s unable to reach the new polling thresholds. O’Rourke has yet to qualify as well but is relatively close with only one more 3% poll needed to be on stage.

Leading into the debate, both Texas candidates are polling in the low-single digits with O’Rourke around 3% and Castro at 1%, according to the latest polling aggregated by RealClearPolitics.

O’Rourke may have a chance to clash with two candidates polling above him, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Both candidates recently pushed back against O’Rourke’s idea of removing the tax-exempt status of churches that oppose same-sex marriage. He may also get the chance to pressure other candidates on his mandatory assault weapons buyback program plan that has given him plenty of headlines in recent weeks.

Seeing as the debate is taking place in Ohio, a state with some of the highest union membership rates in the country and also a large manufacturing base, Castro may also have a chance to flex his recently released “Workers First” plan, a plan to double union membership rates and give workers a seat on corporate boards. 

The big three. In terms of money, media coverage, and polling, the energy is with the top-tier candidates Warren, Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders has begun highlighting differences between himself and Warren on the campaign trail. “Elizabeth, I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not,” Sanders told ABC this week– a line he may double down on in some form or another during tonight’s debate.

For Warren, it’s possible she may and try to capitalize on the fact that she recently picked a sneaky but delicious fight with Facebook:


Among the big three, except a lot more discussion about healthcare, the top issue on voters’ minds. Expect clashes about the Affordable Care Act, Medicare for All, and other candidates pitching their various plans too.

Impeachment. Tuesday’s debate is the first debate to occur since House Democrats launched their formal impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Recent polling indicates a majority of Americans support Trump’s impeachment inquiry. A Fox News poll show over half the country wants him removed from office. 

For Biden, who Trump asked both China and Ukraine to investigate, it’s unclear how he will sort out the past few weeks of bombshell headlines. He’s been relatively tepid in defending himself and his family, but his campaign has telegraphed a tougher punch back against Trump smearing his name. 

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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