Democrats set for last debate before Super Tuesday contests


Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily

The last Democratic presidential debate before the 2020 Iowa caucuses took place Jan. 14. at Drake University in Des Moines.

Mallory Tope

The next Democratic presidential debate is set to take place Tuesday and will feature seven candidates.

“This debate is really important. The reason is that some of the candidates that did well in Nevada, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, need to do really well in South Carolina,” said Steffen Schmidt, professor of political science.

The debate will be broadcasted live at 7 p.m. on CBS from Charleston, South Carolina, four days ahead of that state’s Democratic primary. This is the last debate before the Super Tuesday contests next Tuesday.

In order to qualify for this debate, candidates have to meet one of two polling requirements: two polls at 12 percent or more of South Carolina Democratic primary voters or four polls at 10 percent or more in South Carolina or in national surveys of Democratic primary voters. Only polls approved by the Democratic National Committee and released between Feb. 4 and Monday count.

Candidates could also qualify from earning at least one delegate in the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary or the Nevada caucuses.

The seven candidates who qualified are Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Warren, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Steyer will rejoin the debate stage after not qualifying for the Nevada debate. 

Schmidt said he expects topics like healthcare, criminal justice and education to be brought up during the debate.

“Those are hot-button issues in the African American community,” Schmidt said.

African American voters accounted for 61 percent of the South Carolina Democratic primary electorate in 2016, according to a CNN exit poll.

This is the last televised debate candidates will have before Super Tuesday. 

Candidates that do not do well in this debate or the primary are going to hurt going into Super Tuesday, Schmidt said.

“If candidates screw up in South Carolina, people voting in other states are going to go, ‘I don’t think he or she is going to beat Trump,’” Schmidt said.