Cheat Sheet: The 2nd Democratic Debate

The second Democratic presidential debate will be Saturday, Nov. 14, live from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate will last two hours and begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time. CBS News says there will be no opening statements. Candidates will have 60 seconds to respond, 30 seconds for rebuttals and follow-ups, and 60 seconds for closing statements. The debate will air on CBS and stream for free at

This Saturday’s Democratic debate will be a much smaller gathering than the first. With only three candidates on stage, CBS News is aiming to dive deep into the issues with each candidate, and have taken advantage of the smaller pool by doing some intense research. The event's moderator, John Dickerson, met each of three campaigns for over an hour to discuss the major issues at play in the race. (Prior to the CNN debate, the campaigns said moderator Anderson Cooper did not reach out directly to them before the candidates took the stage.)

As far as a theme goes, CBS News’ John Dickerson told The Des Moines Register he plans to focus the debate on the economy — especially wages and income inequality. “The goal of the moderator is to illuminate the views of the candidates on the issues that matter the most to voters, and you don’t need to be on the side of the party to do that,” Dickerson told the newspaper.

There will be four people involved in moderating the debate, with Dickerson taking the lead as the principal moderator. Dickerson--known for anchoring “Face the Nation” every Sunday--will get help from his CBS News colleague Nancy Cordes, the network’s congressional correspondent. Two local journalists will also pitch in on the panel with Cordes: KCCI’s Kevin Cooney and the Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich.

After Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb dropped out shortly after the last debate, the field was left with three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

With Clinton looking so dominant again, the pressure is on Sanders and O'Malley to try to dislodge her. The New York Times reports that Sanders views this week's debate as "perhaps his best chance to slow her political momentum this fall" — and that while he will focus on making a substantive, issues-based case for himself, he will discuss the issue of Clinton's emails if asked about it. If he does so, it will be a contrast to the last debate, in which he proclaimed the American people were "sick and tired of hearing about [Clinton's] damn emails."

O'Malley, meanwhile, basically has to convince anyone to pay attention to him.

"Polls, fundraising and basic logic pertaining to recent Clinton scandals show Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination," wrote Huffington Post political blogger H.A. Goodman in an editorial piece on October 28. "Nobody goes from less than 1 percent nationally to over 30 percent without serious momentum and unprecedented energy among grass roots supporters".

Another odd feature of this debate is that it's scheduled for a Saturday at 9 pm. If you think that's a time when few people are likely to watch, well, you're probably right. The Democratic National Committee scheduled only six debates for the party all year — and two of those are on Saturdays (with one on the Saturday before Christmas), and another is on Sunday. (It looks like the DNC is trying to protect Hillary Clinton by limiting how many people will actually watch the Democratic debates.)

Not only will Twitter users be able to contribute to the debate and reflect on the night's events in real time, but they'll also be able to submit questions. Ask questions directly by posting to Twitter with the hashtag #DemDebate. 

The Democratic debate is also a landmark moment for Twitter, as the company follows in the footsteps of rivals Facebook and Google, which have partnered with various news networks over the past two election cycles. Most recently, Facebook partnered with both Fox News and CNN to host the first Republican primary debate in September and the first Democratic primary debate in October. With over one billion and 307 million active users punching in on Facebook and Twitter each day, respectively, jumping into the debate arena headfirst is a pretty brilliant way to not only bring the public to the political table, but to also garner a larger user base.