Democratic debate lineup pits Sanders, Warren against moderates: Here's what to watch for

Key Points
  • Ten presidential contenders, including progressive favorites Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, will face off Tuesday evening in Detroit for the first night of the second Democratic debates.
  • The other eight candidates appearing Tuesday will be looking to create a moment that can propel them out of the single digits.
  • The debate will begin at 8 p.m. ET and last about 2½ hours, according to debate host CNN. It will air on CNN and be streamed live on CNN.com.
Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren shake hands before the start of the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 30, 2019.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters

Ten presidential contenders, including progressive favorites Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, will face off Tuesday evening in Detroit for the first night of the second Democratic debates.

The debate will begin at 8 p.m. ET and last about 2½ hours, according to debate host CNN. It will air on CNN and be streamed live on CNN.com.

The most attention will be paid to Warren and Sanders, who will stand at center stage. With former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner, scheduled to debate Wednesday, the two progressives will be Tuesday night's highest-polling candidates. Warren represents Massachusetts and Sanders represents Vermont.

Read more: Here are the top business issues to watch in the second 2020 Democratic debate

Warren and Sanders are unlikely to have the sort of viral clash that erupted between Sen. Kamala Harris and Biden at the first debate last month.

The two senators broadly agree on major issues, such as restraining the power of big business and "Medicare for All." Sanders, asked recently what viewers should expect from the pairing's appearance on the debate stage, said, "Intelligence."

Warren and Sanders are the only two of Tuesday's candidates polling in the double digits.

Joining them, from left to right on stage, will be author Marianne Williamson; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney; and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

The other eight candidates appearing Tuesday will be looking to create a moment that can propel them out of the single digits.

To make the cutoff for the third debate, scheduled for September, candidates will have to meet higher polling and contribution thresholds.

More than half the candidates appearing Tuesday — all except for Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and O'Rourke — are polling below the 2% requirement set by the Democratic National Committee, according to an average compiled by Real Clear Politics.

The presence of the race's most prominent progressives may provide fodder for those to their right. Some moderates, such as Klobuchar, Hickenlooper and Delaney, have already signaled they may challenge Sanders and Warren over health care.

There will be one new face. Bullock will be the only candidate to appear for the first time on the debate stage. The Montana governor, the only Democratic contender elected to statewide office in 2016 in a state Trump won, did not make the cut for the first debates in Miami last month.

Notably, despite a field featuring a number of candidates of color, all of the candidates debating Tuesday are white. The debate lineups were selected by a random draw live on television.

The debate format calls for each candidate to deliver 60-second opening and closing statements, and the same amount of time for responses to questions from the moderators. Candidates will have 30 seconds for rebuttals to their rivals.

Ahead of the debate, CNN announced that it will not ask any show-of-hand questions. Candidates attacked by name will have 30 seconds to respond. Candidates who consistently interrupt will have their time reduced, the network said.

The moderators are Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper.