What to know about the Democratic debate: Lineup, starting time, and what to expect

Seats are arranged for candidates in the Media Center at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas on Thursday ahead of the third 2020 Democratic presidential debate held on campus.
Seats are arranged for candidates in the Media Center at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas on Thursday ahead of the third 2020 Democratic presidential debate held on campus. AFP/Getty Images

The third overall Democratic debate airs tonight, with 10 candidates taking the stage to show why they’d be best to take on President Trump in the general election. Unlike previous rounds of debates, which spanned two nights, Thursday’s event is one-night-only.

Here’s a look at what to expect tonight.

When and where is the debate?

The debate will air tonight (Thursday, Sept. 12) from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. It’s taking place at the Texas Southern University’s Health & PE Center in Houston, Texas.

How can I watch it?

On cable, the debate will air live nationally on ABC and Univision (with a Spanish translation), and locally in Houston on KTRK-TV.


In addition to airing on television, the debate will also stream on several online platforms, including Hulu, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

What’s the lineup?

Those taking part in the debate are (in alphabetical order):

- Former vice president Joe Biden

- Senator Cory Booker

- Mayor Pete Buttigieg

- Former HUD official Julián Castro

- Senator Kamala Harris

- Senator Amy Klobuchar

- Former congressman Beto O’Rourke

- Senator Bernie Sanders

- Senator Elizabeth Warren

- Businessman Andrew Yang

Podium order

So who is standing where? According to information sent by ABC in late August, the front-runners — Biden, Warren, and Sanders — will be clustered in the center.


What happened to the rest of the candidates?

In order to make the debate stage, those in the field of more than 20 candidates had to show at least 2 percent support in four qualifying polls and donations from at least 130,000 unique donors by a deadline in late August.

Among those who did not qualify: Marianne Williamson in August said she crossed the donor threshold to participate but did not receive the required support in polls.


An aggressive ad buy from Tom Steyer helped push him past the donor requirement, but he fell short by just one qualifying poll .

Prior to announcing just before the debate deadline  that she would drop out, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said she was close to receiving the required donors, but The New York Times reported that she needed three more polls.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has the required donors and received up to 3 percent support in several early state polls, but only in two approved by the DNC, her campaign said in August.

According to fivethirtyeight.com, the remaining members of the field did not hit 2 percent in any approved polls prior to the deadline, nor did they hit the donor threshold. Those include Senator Michael Bennet, Governor Steve Bullock, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former congressman John Delaney, and Congressman Tim Ryan.

Who is moderating?

Chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor and managing editor David Muir, ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis, and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos will moderate the debate.

What is the format?

Candidates will be allowed an opening statement, but not a closing statement. Candidates will get one minute and 15 seconds for answers, and 45 seconds for rebuttals.

What do recent national polls say about where the candidates stand?

Former vice president Joe Biden has held on to his lead among the crowded field of candidates, but he’s lost some ground recently to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in national polls. The rest of the field remains stuck in the single digits.