Okay, first, the good news: Only 10 potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates qualified for tonight’s debate in Houston, which means that they can all fit on one stage, and the event can take place on one night only. The gang will be arrayed in order of current polling popularity, with former vice president Joe Biden—who is guaranteed to remind you many times that he was President Obama’s VP—sandwiched between a pair of progressives: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The other seven hopefuls are New Jersey Senator Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; California Senator Kamala Harris; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke; and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. (Sorry, no Marianne Williamson to amuse you this time around.)
Here are just some of the many things you might keep an eye out for:
- Will Warren and/or Sanders go after Biden? Will they bring up his vote on the Iraq War, his endorsement of the crime bill, his refusal to support Medicare for All? Or will they play nice?
- Will Biden continue to present as an uncharismatic stumble-bunny? Or will he rise to the occasion and offer a little fire in the belly?
- Will someone try to gain attention by launching an attack out of the blue, like Harris’s ambush of Biden during the first round of debates? (It gave her a momentary lift in the polls, but that seems to have abated.)
- How will the lower seven distinguish themselves? Will they spend most of their time attacking Trump? How much of the conversation will center around gun control? The situation at the border? The wall? Impeachment?
- Or will they ignore the president and spend the evening eviscerating each other?
- What surprise does Andrew Yang, the guy who has promised to give everyone $1,000 for life, have in store for us? His campaign announced that he has something “big” and “unprecedented” to reveal tonight. (Imagine how the fact that Yang qualified, while Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and the other non-qualifiers didn’t make the grade, makes that bunch feel about life tonight.)
- And, since this may be the last chance hotel for at least some of the people on the podium tonight, what degree of look-at-me histrionics can we expect?
- Which brings us to our last question: Will anyone dare defy the no-cussing rule? According to CNN: “In an email to campaigns obtained Tuesday by CNN, officials from the Democratic National Committee and ABC News—the host network of the debate—warned the candidates to refrain from swearing on the debate stage so as not to run afoul of Federal Communications Commission indecency rules. ‘We will not be broadcasting on any delay, so there will be no opportunity to edit out foul language,’ the note read. ‘Candidates should therefore avoid cursing or expletives in accordance with federal law and FCC guidelines.’” Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to refrain from a little judicious cursing or choice expletives of your own, as you sit glued to the screen for three hours, watching what will be a slug-fest, a snore-fest, or something in between.
Originally Appeared on Vogue