The first Democrat presidential debate of the 2016 campaign season is at 8:30 pm Eastern tonight. If you have a cable account, you can watch it on CNN, and a free internet live stream will be available for all at CNN.com. TV listings have the debate wrapping up around 11 pm Eastern.
The candidates onstage will be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Theoretically, Joe Biden could still show up if he decided to run at any time today.
That's far fewer candidates than the Republicans had onstage in their first two debates — and, amusingly, most of them are barely even Democrats. (Sanders is an independent, while Webb and Chafee began their government careers as Republicans and only joined the Democratic Party relatively recently.)
The relative paucity of Democrats interested in running for president was a testament to the perceived strength of frontrunner Hillary Clinton. But though she's won the overwhelming majority of endorsements from prominent Democrats and leads in national polls and fundraising, questions over her use of a personal email account for government business while secretary of state have hurt her campaign.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders's campaign has looked unexpectedly formidable so far, exciting many progressive activists, drawing large crowds, and powering him to the front of New Hampshire polls and within striking distance of Clinton in Iowa. But the organized Democratic establishment has shown little enthusiasm for his candidacy, and he faces questions about whether a self-described "democratic socialist" could truly be elected president. Expect him to argue onstage that he's more electable than you might think, and check out his biggest differences with Clinton on the issues here.
The other candidates — Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee — have had little success in their campaigns so far, and will surely be hoping to make an impression in front of a national audience tonight.
How to watch
When: 8:30 pm Tuesday
Where: Wynn Las Vegas casino hotel
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