By Derek Munyon
Arts & Entertainment Editor
No one can deny that this election cycle has been hilarious, entertaining and, at times, horrifying, and we’re still over a year away from Election Day.
On top of that, we’ve only really heard from the Republicans so far. The first Democratic debate of this election cycle will be held on Oct. 13 in Las Vegas. It has taken too long.
The debate will most likely focus on the two democratic front runners, assumed favorite Hillary Clinton and unlikely favorite Bernie Sanders.
Clinton has retained a strong lead in all polls, but has had a steep fall in popularity as of late, polling at nearly 60 percent when she announced her candidacy on April 12 and falling to 41 percent by Oct. 3. Sanders has risen in recent polls, being at 26 percent as of Oct. 3.
While Clinton’s popularity is really no surprise. She’s a mainstream Democrat, former First Lady, former Secretary of State, former New York Senator and previously ran in 2008 against President Obama.
Clinton has lost some support in recent months due to the myriad controversies that have sprung up around her. Her involvement, or lack thereof, in an attack on a United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 has been a recurring Republican attack. Her use of a private email for state business during her time as Secretary of State is also a sore spot.
Sanders’ rise in the polls is a bit more surprising. The Vermont Senator is a self-described democratic socialist, who would be a bit of a turn off for the older sect, however, seems like a point of strength for the college crowd that is his largest base of support. Sanders speaks often about income inequality, the need for universal healthcare, paid parental leave, working to fight climate change, tuition free college, LGBT rights and reforming the way politicians are able to receive donations for campaigns. He frequently sites governments such as those in the Norse countries as examples of his form of democratic socialism.
Through multitudes of small donations, Sanders’ campaign has raised as staggering $26 million, narrowly losing to Clinton’s superPAC that raised $28 million. There’s no doubt that Sanders’ populist, grassroots effort for the White House and impassioned stances on social need are resonating with Democratic voters in a big way.
With these two candidates eclipsing all others on the left, however, it’s hard to remember that there will be other candidates sharing that stage with them. Polling in 3rd at 0.6 percent is Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Also polling at 0.6 percent is Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Finally in last at 0.1 percent in the polls is Lincoln Chafee, Governor of Rhode Island.
These candidates haven’t been able to get much of a footing on the national stage, in part due to their lack of exposure. Since the Democrats haven’t yet had a debate, they haven’t had that golden moment to speak their piece, show their personalities and spike in the polls the way, say, Republican candidate Carly Fiorina was able to after the opposing side’s two debates. O’Malley has specifically been outspoken on the need for more debates on the left and the lack of fairness to candidates who may not have as well known of a name.
These are the 5 candidates who will be sharing the stage on the 13th. However, there are other candidates to consider as well. There’s still a possibility that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the race. There’s also Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School, whose campaign gets totally overlooked and will not be included in the debate. Lessig has also come out in an article on Politico complaining that the press won’t give his campaign enough attention and the Democratic National Convention won’t recognize him.
No matter who you support or whom you even know, you should make sure to tune in to the debate. It’s always important to know what your politicians have to say and what they stand for to make sure you make the most informed decision as possible on Election Day.