Local Democratic supporters attend the viewing party for the first night of the Democratic debate at Little Italy on June 26, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. Due to the amount of candidates, the debate was split into two nights. (Photo/Foster Steinbeck)

We know what you’re thinking — another debate? But, since it’s happening just an hour and a half away from Athens, it’s a big day for both national and state politics.

Here’s what you need to know about the debate, the candidates and the issues before tuning in on Nov. 20.


The fifth Democratic presidential debate will take place on Wednesday from 9-11 p.m, which is one hour shorter than the previous debates. MSNBC and The Washington Post are co-hosting the debate live from Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.

An all-female panel will moderate the debate, featuring MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, NBC foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell, NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker and The Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker.

Who qualified?

Ten presidential hopefuls will battle it out on Wednesday night. Front-runners Joe Biden, Pete Buttigeg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will share the stage with Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

Qualification criteria for the debate includes both a polling and donor minimums. Candidates had poll at least 3% support in four national or state primary polls or at least 5% in two state primary polls. In terms of finances, candidates had to receive contributions from at least 165,000 donors and a minimum of 600 unique donors per state from 20 U.S. states or territories.

Why Atlanta?

During the 2018 midterm elections, Georgia’s closely-contested governor’s race made national headlines. Democrats have kept this in mind going into the 2020 election, where two Senate seats are also up for grabs in the state.

It’s clear Georgia isn’t shying away from the national spotlight anytime soon, and the decision to have the debate in Atlanta reflects its importance to Democrats.

Other politicians have also noticed Georgia's precarious positions between parties.

President Donald Trump visited Atlanta earlier this month in part to kickstart his campaign rallying black voters, a demographic that showed little support for Trump in the 2016 election, according to the Pew Research Center.

In the 2018 election, black voter turnout in Georgia exceeded that of white turnout, according to the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization. 

This is one of the reasons Mayor Keisha Bottoms championed for the Tyler Perry Studios, the AJC reported, emphasizing the importance of votes from people of color. Democratic candidates also held political events throughout the week at historically black colleges and the Hammonds House Museum.

Tyler Perry Studios is a 330-acre, former military base. Perry bought Fort McPherson in 2015, and it is now one of the largest production facilities in the country. The $250 million complex is the only studio owned by an African-American and officially opened this year, the AJC reported.

Catch up

This debate has a smaller pool of candidates than October’s Ohio debate, where 12 people took the stage.

Since the last debate, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke dropped out and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro did not qualify.

Political experts and media outlets reported Warren ruled the debate stage, followed by strong performances from Klobuchar, Buttigieg and Sanders, who returned after suffering a heart attack.

The top issues of the October debate involved healthcare plans, Trump’s foreign policy in Syria, gun policy and billionaires.

For the first time on the debate stage, all candidates publicly supported the impeachment inquiry and reproductive rights were briefly discussed.

The first two Democratic presidential debates took place over the summer. These debates took place over two nights, with 10 candidates facing off each night.

Athens Democrats expect the impeachment hearing to be a hot topic and hope to hear discussions about climate change, worker rights, healthcare, reproductive rights and gun control.

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