Clinton, Sanders Lead Race as Democrats Enter 1st Debate Oct. 13

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are the leading candidates in the polls for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. The two front-runners will be joined in the first Democratic presidential debate Oct. 13 by fellow candidates Lincoln Chaffee, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb.

According to the Associated Press,  Clinton and Sanders will most likely focus on the differences in their respective stances on issues, such as gun control and college affordability, in the Oct. 13 debate. Clinton has many connections to both the White House and the Democratic Party, while Sanders is the longest-serving Independent in Congress and refers to himself as a Democratic socialist.

Mark Smith, professor of political science and director of Cedarville’s Center for Political Studies, said the lesser amount of 2016 Democratic candidates will give Tuesday’s candidates more time to speak. Eleven Republican presidential candidates engaged in the prime-time debate Sept. 16 in California, but just five Democratic candidates are expected to take the stage Oct. 13 in Las Vegas.

Thus, each Democratic candidate will be able to give more detailed answers, Smith said. The Democratic debate will not be drastically different than the Sept. 16 GOP debate, but people may get a better idea of who the candidates are, Smith said.

“People can expect the candidates to try to distinguish themselves from each other,” said Smith, “and try to make the best case for why they should be President of the United States.”

According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls Oct. 12, Clinton is the most supported candidate with 42 percent support, and Sanders has 25.4 percent support. Vice President Joe Biden (who has not yet declared he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination) has 18.6 percent support. Webb polls at 0.9 percent,  O’Malley at 0.6 percent, and Chaffee at 0.2 percent.

The candidates taking the stage Oct. 13 have averaged one percent support in three CNN polls released between Aug. and Oct. 10, CNN said.

CNN said Oct. 1 that even though Biden is able to participate in the Oct. 13 debate, he is not expected to jump into the presidential race before then. He will most likely decide whether to run by the end of October, the network said.

According to a recent NBC/WSJ poll, if Biden entered the race right now, he would enter the race as the most popular candidate. Voters support Clinton over most of the Republican candidates, but Biden is viewed even more favorably among the candidates from both sides, NBC said.

Clinton has maintained a significant lead over Sanders, and if Biden does not enter the race, Clinton’s lead will most likely continue to grow, CNN said.

The smaller number of candidates won’t be the only difference between the Sept. 16 Republican debate and the Oct. 13 Democratic debate. Kevin Sims, professor of political science at Cedarville, said that at the Democratic debate, candidates will attack Republicans instead of attacking each other.

“Unlike the Republican debates where the candidates really attacked each other,” Sims said, “Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will attack Republicans.”

He said because Donald Trump is the candidate that has been receiving the most attention, the Democratic candidates will use him as the face of the Republican party. In other words, Sims said, if Trump wants to do some crazy, outlandish thing, the Democratic candidates will say that all Republicans must agree with Trump’s perspective.

The CNN-sponsored debate will take place at the Wynn Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Oct. 13. The debate will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on CNN.

Heather Matchefts is a sophomore off-campus news reporter for Cedars who has an interest in political science. She is a fan of the Olympic games, drinking tea and watching Jeopardy.

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