How to watch the November Democratic debate: Schedule, rules and more

How to watch the November Democratic debate: Schedule, rules and more
By Dareh Gregorian with NBC News Politics
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The debate will feature Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in center stage, but will be missing some familiar faces.


The Democratic presidential primary debate on Wednesday will feature Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren standing center stage, flanked by Bernie Sanders and a rising Pete Buttigieg — and will be missing a couple of familiar faces.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Buttigieg will likely capture more attention from his fellow candidates after recent polling shows him leading the field in Iowa, while Warren can expect a barrage of questions about changes to her Medicare for All plan.

The field of 10 candidates expected to take the stage at Tyler Perry Studios — fewer than the 12 at October's debate — will be missing some familiar faces.

Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, who qualified for all the previous debates, failed to hit the polling benchmark for this one. Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who had also appeared in every debate, dropped out of the race after it became clear he wouldn't make the stage in Atlanta.

Also not making the stage are former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who announced his candidacy last week, and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who's indicated he's going to jump in as well.

Here's everything you need to know about the fifth debate.

When and where is the Democratic debate?

The debate is being held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta and is being co-hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post. It's scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday and last two hours.

It will feature four moderators: Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show"; Andrea Mitchell, host of MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" and NBC News' chief foreign affairs correspondent; Kristen Welker, NBC News' White House correspondent; and Ashley Parker, a White House reporter for The Washington Post.

Who made the stage?

The candidates had to hit higher benchmarks than they did in earlier debates — reach 3 percent of support in at least four early state or national polls recognized by the Democratic National Committee, and have 165,000 unique donors. Those were up from 2 percent in the polls and 130,000 individual donors in the two previous debates.

The 10 who made the cut are former Vice President Biden, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Buttigieg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Sanders of Vermont, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, Massachusetts Sen. Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Who's standing where?

As was the case in earlier debates, stage position was determined by the polls that the DNC used, with the best-polling candidates in the center. From left to right, the order is Booker, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Warren, Biden, Sanders, Harris, Yang and Steyer.

What are the rules?

Candidates will have 75 seconds to answers questions posed to them and 45 seconds for follow-ups at the moderators' discretion. Candidates should be able to respond if they're referred to by name by another candidate, but that will be at the moderators' discretion, according to an announcement earlier this month from MSNBC and the Post.

Each candidate will also be asked a balanced number of questions, organizers said — an attempt to cut down on the sizable differences in speaking time for some candidates in the previous debates. A New York Times review of October's debate found that Warren spoke for almost 23 minutes, while Steyer spoke for just over 7.

There will be no opening statement, but candidates will have one minute and 15 seconds for a closing statement.

How can I watch the debate?

The debate will be broadcast live at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC and will also stream for free on and as well as across mobile devices via NBC News and The Washington Post's mobile apps. In addition, audio of the debate will be available on SiriusXM Channel 118, and TuneIn. will live blog the debate throughout the night, offering live updates, fact checks and analysis.

When is round 6?

The sixth Democratic presidential primary debate will be hosted by PBS and Politico at the University of California Los Angeles on December 19. To make the stage, candidates will need to hit 4 percent in four DNC-approved national or early voting state polls, and receive at least 200,000 unique donations.

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