Democrats debate again Thursday night, and all the top-tier candidates will be on the stage together for the first time. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders lead the pack, while seven others on the stage will be looking for breakouts: Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Beto O'Rourke, Andrew Yang, Julian Castro, and Amy Klobuchar. The debate hosted by ABC News start at 8pm Eastern. Here's a look at coverage:
- Warren's surge: Biden has long been atop the polls, but Axios notes that Warren is the only candidate who has been steadily rising since the first debate. She's up 9.5 points in a polling average by Real Clear Politics from June 11 to Sept. 11, while all the other candidates are either in the red or up less than 2 points. The latest ranking is Biden (29.8%), Warren (18.7%), Sanders (18%), Harris (7.2%), then the rest.
- Head to head: Tops on the what-to-watch list from CNN is whether a head-to-head confrontation emerges between Biden and Warren. She is pushing for more aggressive changes to US policies, including on the economy, than Biden is, and Thursday night could offer a "stark view of the contrasts in how the two approach politics."
- Sanders, too: He, too, has fundamentally different approaches than Biden on everything from health care to climate change, and Sanders could be a "major factor" in this debate, per the Washington Post. And not just when it comes to the former VP: While "Sanders and Warren have been allies, a clash between them is likely at some point, with both fighting to become the liberal alternative to Biden."
- Harris: The California senator surged after her performance in the first debate, but she has fallen in the polls over the summer, notes the New York Times. Her advisers say they're not panicking, though Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio expects her fellow Democrat to be aggressive Thursday. "This debate matters in particular because people don't start paying attention until after Labor Day," says Fudge, who has endorsed Harris. "Now every day people are starting to pay attention, so this is an important one."
- 2 Texans: The debate is in Houston, but Texans O'Rourke and Castro enter the stage relatively low in the polls and "desperate for a breakout," per Politico. Don't expect them to go after each other. "It makes far more sense for them to tag team and go after Bernie [Sanders] or Warren or Biden and try to make a significant dent," says one state Democratic strategist.
- Yang's tease: The entrepreneur is promising something "big" and "unprecedented" during the debate, but he isn't offering any details, reports NBC News. Yang, 44, has danced and crowdsurfed during his campaign, providing a contrast to the 70-something frontrunners. Buttigieg is even younger, at 37.
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