After a stunning Bernie Sanders victory in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, the next Democratic presidential debate pitting Sanders one-on-one against Hillary Clinton looks to be the main event of the 2016 campaign so far, with both candidates needing a big win.
For Clinton, a knockout debate performance would rebuild her image as the clear front-runner and “inevitable” nominee. But for Bernie Sanders, a debate win is equally important, as his underdog bid for the Democratic presidential nomination faces some seriously steep hills to climb, moving into a series of states where Clinton maintains an imposing advantage in the polls.
Sanders will need to to create some sort of world-shaking event to turn those polls around, and the next Democratic debate later this week gives him his first and possibly best opportunity to score the massive blow against Clinton that he needs.
The Thursday debate is sponsored by PBS and can be seen streaming live in the video below.
The PBS debate will also be the first with an all-female moderating panel. PBS News Hour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will ask the questions. Both are seasoned veterans of political news coverage as well of presidential debates.
Ifill is perhaps best remembered as the moderator of the 2008 vice-presidential debate between then-Delaware Senator Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, who was still governor of Alaska at the time.
To warm up for the next Democratic debate, watch a replay of the last one, from New Hampshire on February 4, in the video below.
While a Sanders victory was expected in the New Hampshire primary based on polling results over the several weeks leading up to Tuesday’s voting, the size of his win was a shocker, with the self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” crushing better-known political veteran Clinton by 22.3 percentage points.
New Hampshire voters sent the former Secretary of State a resounding statement of rejection. But both New Hampshire and Iowa, where Sanders finished in a near-dead heat with Clinton in that state’s caucuses, sent a 90 percent white electorate to the polls. Statistics have shown that Clinton runs much more strongly among non-white voters.
In fact, the next nine states where Democratic primaries of caucuses will be held do not paint a pretty picture for Bernie Sanders. Based on polling averages compiled by the election-predicting site FiveThirtyEight.com, Sanders is looking at a prolonged losing streak that could do serious damage to his campaign and wring out the enthusiasm of his impassioned supporters.
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Of those nine, only Wisconsin shows a close race, with Sanders trailing by just 2.2 points. Wisconsin is also the site of this week’s next Democratic debate, but the primary there is not scheduled until April 5.
In the next Democratic battleground, the caucus state of Nevada on February 20, Clinton holds a seemingly insurmountable 32.4-point lead. In the South Carolina primary, up next on February 27, Clinton is up by 31.2 in the FiveThirtyEight average and holds a 29.5 point advantage, according to Real Clear Politics.
Hillary Clinton holds similarly commanding leads in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, with a somewhat tighter contest shaping up in California on June 7. However, that state shows a Clinton lead of 13.4 points as of February 4, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Of course, the winner of the New Hampshire primary typically receives a “bounce” in the polls, which could cause those polling results to contract somewhat over the coming days. But Clinton’s margin in those states is likely to remain sizable unless Sanders can score a devastating blow at the next Democratic debate.
While Sanders has been hammering Clinton over her acceptance of political donations and six-figure speaking fees from Wall Street interests. But at the next Democratic debate, expect Clinton to strike back hard with new revelations that Sanders himself has been a frequent fixture at luxury getaways sponsored by big money donors, including Wall Street, which have poured money into the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — cash readily accepted by Bernie Sanders.
Sanders campaign has already blasted those accusations as “disturbing,” “dishonest,” and “beyond preposterous,” so viewers can expect similar fireworks starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, 6 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, February 11, giving both candidates just two days to recover from the New Hampshire ordeal.
The next Democratic debate pitting Bernie Sanders one-on-one against Hillary Clinton will air from the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and will be streamed live by PBS at this link as well as by CNN at this link, both options without requiring cable login credentials.
[Photo By David Goldman/AP]