Stage is set for Democratic debate

By: Melissa Randall

mrandall@abc6.com

@MRandallABC6

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but Tuesday night’s debate, which is being held in Sin City, is sure to be talked about long afterwards. The Democratic candidates will come face–to–face for the very first time.

Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is in Las Vegas ahead of the first big debate. He and the other two lesser known candidates—will have to stand on the wings. Bernie sanders will fill in the remaining position after front runner Hillary Clinton takes the center podium.

“It is Hillary’s to lose. It was Hillary’s to lose. And it will be Hillary’s to lose. That’s not to say she won’t lose,” said Joseph Cammarano, a Political Science professor at Providence College.

Right now Clinton is top dog. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post Poll 47% of adults see her favorably. Bernie Sanders is at 35%. Vice President Joe Biden, who is still deciding if he’ll run, is a wild card.

“I think if Biden enters he probably takes an equal number away from Hillary and Bernie Sanders and so I think it’s kind of a net wash in terms of who is out in front,” explained Cammarno.

Independent voters, a weakness for Clinton, will be a big factor in the election, but not necessarily the first debate.

“Hillary Clinton has to win Independents in order to win the Presidency. She does not need have to win independents in order to get the nomination,” said Cammarno.

Cammarano tells ABC6 that despite their low poll numbers the debate is still important for Chafee, Jim Webb and especially Martin O’Malley.

“So Martin O’Malley particularly wants to get attention so people say, ‘well he’s a reasonable replacement’ if Hillary is not deemed satisfactory and if Bernie Sanders is just too liberal," said Cammarano.

But can Democrats beat the Republicans? One new poll says that Biden looks more electable than Hillary Clinton against top GOP candidates. A podium is ready at the debate in case he does decide to enter the race.

© WLNE-TV 2015