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What to listen for during the PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate?

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Thursday night from Milwaukee the PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate will be aired live beginning at 9:00 on WGVU-HD and WGVU-FM. With two contests in the books, what should voters be listening for from candidates Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders? WGVU spoke with two local political scientists to find out.

The Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary are in the books. What does it mean heading into tonight’s debate?

“So I think the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire have clarified the Democratic field and Bernie Sanders is a legitimate contender.”

That’s Calvin College Professor of Political Science, Dr. Doug Koopman. He says Sanders will need to be prepared for personal attacks.

“This is the first debate in which they will be equal.”

“Sanders did very well amongst a whole different grouping of individuals that Clinton had hoped to do well with.”

Erika King is Professor of Political Science at Grand Valley State University. She says both camps are pouring over exit polling data where Clinton showed a weakness with female voters and Sanders with minorities. King recommends listening for the messaging tonight.

“So you have to be careful about not being too focused on one particular group or subset of the population.  Another fine line.”

“What I listen for is…does the person talk about issues as if they know how these things might be implemented? You know, we still have separation of powers and a constitutional government that a president has to work with a congress and these things have to be approved by a Supreme Court, or at least not stopped by a Supreme Court. So is the candidate both the right combination, I would have to say, idealistic and realistic? Are they credible as a president?”

Tonight the PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate live coverage begins at 9:00 on WGVU-HD and WGVU-FM.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.