What to Look for in the Democratic Debate

Two days after their a virtual tie in Iowa, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will debate on Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern. It will be their first one-on-one contest. We asked NYT reporters what they'd be looking for tonight.
  1. How they respond to Iowa
    Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly — even shockingly — lost millennial voters in Iowa by 70 points to Bernie Sanders. Sanders lost seniors in Iowa by 43 points. Will either of them tailor their message to try to bridge some of the gap?
  2. How Sanders handles healthcare
    Will Sanders seek to explain his plan to raise taxes on all Americans to pay for his “Medicare for all” health care program, and how? The many so-called independent voters in New Hampshire are hostile toward taxes and tax increases, and those voters are a key demographic for him in the primary.
  3. How Clinton talks about the party
    Will Clinton more forcefully reminds voters that Sanders was not a Democrat until he decided to run for president? It’s something she danced around in the last debate, and has allowed surrogates to raise, but hasn’t said it directly. It won’t necessarily help with all the independents in New Hampshire, but it could be a smart play looking ahead to Nevada, South Carolina and beyond.
  4. How Clinton courts independents
    Clinton needs a lift in New Hampshire. Will she make a play for New Hampshire’s famously fickle independent voters by directly attacking Sanders as a pie-in-the-sky idealist?
  5. Whether Sanders attacks
    How comfortable will Sanders seem lobbing barbs across the stage now that he knows he came so close to winning Iowa? Just as important: Whether Clinton appears rattled, as she did the other night in her speech after the Iowa results.
  6. What Sanders says on foreign policy
    Sanders canceled a speech on foreign policy issues and had a press conference on foreign trade policies Wednesday, perhaps hoping that focusing on these issues will help voters see him as stronger on international affairs, an area where Clinton, a former secretary of state, has had the upper hand.
  7. What Sanders says about money
    Sanders has drawn contrasts with Clinton in his advertisements over just one issue: campaign contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street banks. Will the debate bring more explicit statements or accusations from Sanders on that theme?