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Viewer's guide to tonight's part 2 of the Democratic presidential debate

Posted at 1:24 PM, Jun 27, 2019

On Wednesday, 10 Democratic hopefuls squared off in the first debate of the 2020 presidential election cycle. But it's not over yet. Tonight, 10 more Democrat candidates will participate in the second part of the debate in Miami.

In some ways, Thursday's second part of the debate might be considered the more high-profile one of the two. Four of the top five candidates in last week's Monmouth University poll will be on the stage on Thursday, including former Vice President and frontrunner Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

This is the full lineup for Thursday's debate:

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Sen. Kamala Harris of California

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado

Author Marianne Williamson

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado

Why such a large field?

One reason is many Democrats see an opportunity to win in 2020 with Trump's disapproval rating consistently above 50 percent, according to Gallup. A second reason is that the DNC has changed its nominating rules, taking power away from so-called "Super Delegates" and allowing the primaries and caucuses alone to decide the party's nominee.

Isn't this early for a debate?

While the Democrats did not hold their first debate until 13 months before the general election in 2016 (there are still 16 months between now and the 2020 general election), that was relatively late. In 2008, the Democrats held their first debate more than 18 months before the general election. The Republicans held their first debate in 2016 less than 15 months before the election.

In 2012, the GOP had its first debate 18 months out from the general election. In that case, it might have been a case of being too early. The May 2012 debate did not draw eventual nominee Mitt Romney to the stage.

What do the polls say?

Like the Republicans in 2016, the Democrats have such a large field, all of the candidates could not fit on one stage. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats opted to divide candidates between two debates at random rather than holding an "undercard" debate.

But if polling is any indication, Thursday has the stronger candidates. Four of the top five candidates will be on the stage on Thursday, according to last week's poll released by Mammoth University. Frontrunner Joe Biden along with Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg will share a stage Thursday. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the only candidate among the top 5 who was on stage Wednesday.