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Debate stage on NBC News

Everything You Need to Know About Tonight's Democratic Debate

Gettyimages | Drew Angerer
By Robin Zabiegalski

Tonight, February 19th, at 9pm EST, the Democratic candidates will gather for a debate in Nevada. This debate comes as the candidates prepare for the Nevada caucus this Saturday, February 22nd.

With the primary season in full swing, the Democratic field is still pretty large. No single candidate has a commanding lead in the Democratic race or a substantial lead over Trump in national polls. In other words, it's still anyone's game, which means that tonight's debate is essential.

Here's everything you need to know about tonight's debate.

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Bloomberg Joins the Stage

Mike Bloomberg speaking at an event for his presidential campaign
Gettyimages | Mark Wilson

Yesterday, Michael Bloomberg announced that he would be joining the debate in Nevada. In a national poll, he's now polling at 19% which just barely qualifies him to participate in the debate.

Previously, participation in the debates was determined by the number of donors, but Bloomberg challenged that requirement because he's not accepting money from donors. The threshold for participation was changed to polling numbers instead.

This change drew criticism from other Democratic candidates who accused Bloomberg of trying to buy the White House.

Who Will be on the Debate Stage?

Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders
Gettyimages | Scott Olson

So, who will be on stage tonight? As of yesterday, six of the Democratic candidates were polling high enough to qualify for the debate.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice-President Joe Biden, Former South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will all be on the debate stage tonight.

Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard weren't polling high enough to qualify for tonight's debate.

Things to Watch Out For

Democratic Debate Stage
Gettyimages | SAUL LOEB

In advance of Super Tuesday, March 3rd, the candidates are looking to pull away from the crowd. So, tonight's debate gives each candidate the opportunity to stand out.

Here are a few things to watch out for tonight:

Bloomberg's First Debate: This is the first time Bloomberg will be on stage with the other candidates. The public and the media will be watching to see how he handles criticism and answers under fire. This debate could make or break his run.

Attacks on Bernie: As Bernie establishes himself as a serious contender, the other candidates may ramp up their criticisms of his policies or his electability. How Bernie handles this criticism and returns to policy will help establish him as the frontrunner instead of one of the pack.

How Will Biden and Warren Set Themselves Apart?: Both Biden and Warren have started to lag behind, so this debate provides them a key opportunity to reestablish themselves. They'll both need to focus on setting themselves apart from the competition with their policies and stances in tonight's debate.

How Can You Watch the Debate?

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren at the Democratic Debate
Gettyimages | Win McNamee

Starting at 9pm EST, the debate will be aired live on NBC and MSNBC. You can watch live on your TV with an antenna or cable package. You can also stream the debates live on the NBC website, the NBC app, or the NBC Facebook page.

If you have a Roku TV, an Apple TV, or an Amazon Fire TV, then you can watch the debate on the NBC News Now app that is free on each of these devices.

Tune in tonight to see the candidates battle it out!

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