This past month has brought with it a considerable thinning of the Democratic herd, at least relative to its meager original numbers. On Tuesday, October 20, former Secretary of the Navy and Senator Jim Webb ended his presidential bid, and on the following Friday, former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee did the same. Vice President Joe Biden announced the same week that he would not seek the presidency. More recently, on November 2, Harvard Professor and campaign finance reform advocate Lawrence Lessig followed suit, leaving the field at a lonely three: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley.
The Democratic candidates so far have had two debates: one in the traditional style, in which the candidates shared the stage in a debate hosted by CNN (and in which Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee sealed their respective presidential fates); and another “candidate” forum hosted by MSNBC, in which the network primetime news host, Rachel Maddow, interviewed the candidates individually.
The next debate, which will be hosted by CBS News and will take place in the Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, will give each of the three remaining candidates plenty of time — the equivalent of the length of a stump speech for each of them — to explain policies in detail. Going into the debate, Sanders and Clinton are neck-and-neck in polling of New Hampshire Democrats — with O’Malley a distant third — though Clinton holds a substantial lead over the Vermont Senator in Iowa.