The three remaining Democratic presidential candidates will convene in South Carolina on Sunday for the fourth Democratic debate, this time hosted by NBC News and YouTube. There was speculation that Martin O’Malley might be excluded based on criteria used by NBC, however, some last-minute polls put him over the threshold.


Sunday, January 17, 2016
NBC News Democratic Debate
9pm ET (8pm CT, 7pm MT, 6pm PT)

Aired On: NBC
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Live Stream:

Moderator: Lester Holt
Candidates: Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley

Report from the Wall Street Journal:

Democrat Martin O’Malley will make the cut for Sunday’s Democratic debate after all, NBC News, the debate’s host, said Thursday.

The Jan. 17 debate, in Charleston, S.C., will feature all three Democratic candidates: front-runner Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mr. O’Malley.

Criteria released by NBC News and co-host YouTube last week appeared to make it difficult for Mr. O’Malley to qualify. Candidates needed an average of 5% nationally or in three early-voting states in polls recognized by the debate hosts in order to qualify.

Making the cut for the debate is a boon for Mr. O’Malley’s campaign, which has failed to gain any traction this cycle. The debate will offer the former Maryland governor a final opportunity to boost his flagging campaign ahead of the first nominating contest in Iowa on Feb. 1.

The prospect of cutting Mr. O’Malley from the debate drew criticism from all three Democratic contenders. Mr. O’Malley told reporters in Davenport, Iowa, last week that “the people of the United States” should determine the winner of the Democratic primary, not “executives at NBC and not pollsters.” Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager called the issue a “question of basic fairness.” And Mrs. Clinton’s spokeswoman said the campaign would “oppose any debate criteria that might leave someone excluded.”

Following their criticism, an NBC executive told CNN last week that the network would round up from 4.5% and expected all three contenders to be included.

Mr. O’Malley is currently at 2.3% nationally, and at 5% and 3% in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively, according to a Real Clear Politics average of recent polls. That average includes some polls not recognized by NBC.

O’Malley is just about done in this race. Sanders, on the other hand, is starting to make serious inroads when examining the polling out of New Hampshire and now Iowa. Hillary Clinton’s support is slipping in the early states and Sanders is taking up the defectors. This debate, though it’s being held in South Carolina, will have direct implications in Iowa, especially if Clinton comes out attacking Sanders and the two of them finally get into it over policy differences.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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