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Everything You Need to Know about Thursday’s Democratic Debate

The gloves are coming off as the candidates head into the New Hampshire primary.

Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

The first of four newly scheduled Democratic primary debates will take place at the University of New Hampshire in Durham on Thursday, February 4, at 9:00 p.m. The debate will air on MSNBC, with NBC News’ Chuck Todd and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow moderating. Follow along at the New Republic’s Minutes blog for live updates and analysis.

This debate, the fifth so far of the Democratic primary, comes just days after Hillary Clinton eked out a razor-thin win over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Caucus. With Sanders’s near-home-court advantage in New Hampshire, it looks increasingly likely that Clinton will lose the state’s primary on Tuesday (the latest RealClearPolitics aggregate poll shows Sanders leading by 17.5 percentage points). Look for Clinton to make a more national appeal in this debate as she trains her gaze on the South Carolina primary, a state with one of the highest percentages of black voters.

With Martin O’Malley out of the race, the rest of the debates will be head-to-head showdowns between Clinton and Sanders. The other three newly added debates will be in Flint, Michigan, in March, Pennsylvania in April, and California in May. All have now been sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, which had at first resisted the additions.

Here’s what the New Republic’s writers have been saying about the candidates since the Iowa Caucus.

Hillary Clinton

Even though the narrowness of her victory in Iowa probably induced some 2008 flashbacks, the win was an important coup for the former secretary of state, wrote Alex Shephard. She was the first woman to even win an Iowa Caucus, noted Jamil Smith. In her post-caucus speech, she took a conciliatory note towards Sanders supporters, said Gwyneth Kelly. Still, Clinton and Sanders have increasingly engaged in a battle for the soul of progressivism, Elizabeth Bruenig said. And when it comes to the battle of ideas, Sanders is winning, wrote Jeet Heer.

Bernie Sanders

Despite his talk of a political revolution, Sanders has been oddly quiet about welfare reform, noted Clio Chang and Samuel Adler-Bell. In Iowa, he pulled a whopping 84 percent of voters between the ages of 17 and 29, though young voters can be unreliable, wrote Christopher Beem. But recent disputes with Clinton have called his electability into question, wrote Brian Beutler. Even if he doesn’t win in the end, his brand of democratic socialism already has, said Bruenig. He’s tugging Clinton and the party to the left, added both Heer and David Dayen. Plus, a fun fact from Heer: Sanders is even funnier than his imitators.