It appears that CNN has finally gotten around to providing more details for the upcoming Democratic debate on January 14, set at Drake University, in Des Moines, Iowa. The event is being co-sponsored by the Des Moines Register, and will, at least at this time, feature only five candidates on stage. CNN has released information on the moderating panel, as well as the start time for the debate which can be seen live on CNN and streamed from the Des Moines Register website.

CNN/Des Moines Register Democratic Debate (7th Debate)
9 pm ET (8 pm CT, 7 pm MT, 6 pm PT)
 Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Watch On: CNN
Live Stream:,
Location: Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa
Sponsors: CNN, Des Moines Register

Who is moderating?

The debate will be moderated by a panel of three, with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer leading the coverage:

  • Wolf Blitzer – CNN primetime anchor
  • Abby Phillip – CNN political correspondent
  • Brianne Pfannenstiel – Des Moines Register chief political reporter

Which candidates will be there?

Due to a tightening set of rules concerning required numbers of donors and required levels of polling support, only five candidates appear to have made the cut for a debate spot next week.

Joe Biden
Pete Buttigieg
Amy Klobuchar
Bernie Sanders
Tom Steyer
Elizabeth Warren
Not Qualified
Mike Bloomberg
Andrew Yang
Cory Booker
Michael Bennet
Julian Castro
John Delaney
Tulsi Gabbard
Deval Patrick
Marianne Williamson

Businessman Andrew Yang and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker have hit the donor threshold but haven’t hit the necessary number of polls. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has hit the polling threshold, but he is not soliciting campaign donations which means he will be unable to meet the donor threshold.

It’s unlikely that any further candidates will qualify for the debate with the deadline looming this week.

How do candidates qualify?

In order to qualify for the debate, candidates must meet both polling and fundraising minimums. For the polling criteria, candidates either need to receive 5% in at least four approved national or early state polls, or receive 7% in two early state polls. The list of early primary and caucus states includes Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Candidates also need to receive donations from at least 225,00 unique donors, and a minimum of 1,000 unique donors per state in at least 20 different states

The deadline for candidates to meet both requirements is Friday, January 10.

Will the gloves come off for Biden and Bernie?

There are just 20 days between this debate and the Iowa caucuses set for February 3. With the clocking ticking down, and Iowa basically a three-way or four-way tie according to various polls, what will this debate mean for the first voting contest?

For the Biden campaign, fear of a growing threat from Bernie Sanders seems to be guiding the former vice president’s groundwork in the Hawkeye State:

The Biden campaign has specifically courted the endorsement of community leaders in Iowa who backed Sanders in 2016. They’ve sought to combat Sanders’ recent habit of rolling out star surrogates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with their own A-list surrogates. And last week, Biden’s five-day Iowa bus tour heavily concentrated on the eastern part of the state — the biggest regional battleground between the two candidates because of its concentration of working-class voters.

“They have to start forcing Bernie to address some of his obvious challenges,” said Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network and a senior strategist for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2018. “The gloves-off strategy didn’t work for Clinton, and it isn’t going to work this time either.”

In other words, it may be time for Biden to go on the offense more strongly against Sanders, and Warren, for that matter, over their progressive policies. Warren has been struggling on her own accord as of late, so the real threat seems to be mostly from Bernie.

Biden has attempted in prior debates, with some success, to push back against “Medicare for All” calling it “unworkable” and espousing his belief that forcing a mandatory ban on private insurance simply won’t sell in a general election.

Biden himself stumbled on healthcare this week, however, when asked about the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare. When questioned by a voter on the campaign trail about issues with President Obama’s signature legislation, Biden replied saying that “nobody understood” the law as it was passed and some of the promises didn’t pan out, such as keeping your doctor. Biden will surely be asked to explain his comment at the debate.

Where can I get more debate information?

Bookmark our 2020 Democratic Debate schedule page for the latest details on debate times, schedules, channels, moderators, and candidates. This page is constantly updated with new information from debate sponsors and hosts.


On Friday, Jan. 10, polling showed that Tom Steyer has crossed the needed threshold for polling and has made the debate stage bringing the total number of candidates to six.