Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos…Joe Biden will be hosting a high school reunion before watching tonight’s Democratic debate, because what could be better practice for a presidential campaign than having awkward conversations with people as you desperately try to remember their names?
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’16 AT 30 THOUSAND
Faithful readers of The Lid, of course, know plenty about all the Democratic candidates who will be on stage tonight. But an important reminder for the candidates not named Clinton or Sanders: A lot of people have no idea who you are. Like, a LOT of people.
We looked back at our NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll from late September, and about half of *Democratic primary voters* did not recognize the name of Martin O’Malley (49 percent gave a “don’t know name” response), Jim Webb (55 percent) and Lincoln Chafee (56 percent). That’s probably good news for any of those candidates if they are able to differentiate themselves in a way that could vault them into actual-contender territory. (As our colleague Leigh Ann Caldwell points out, that may be the most true for Martin O’Malley, who’s aggressively pitched to be the choice of progressives but has failed to gain traction so far.) But it also means that the bar is extremely high for the relative unknowns to make themselves noticed, with so much of the narrative centered around Clinton’s contrast with Sanders -- and the still-absent, still reportedly undecided Joe Biden.
POPPING ON NBC POLITICS
- NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports that the stakes are high for Martin O’Malley, who needs a breakout moment.
- Dante Chinni reports on why Democrats chose Las Vegas for their first presidential debate.
- Here are the big areas of possible differentiation for the five candidates on stage.
- Donald Trump accused a woman who questioned him about women’s rights this week of being a Jeb Bush plant.
- Here’s your one-stop shopping for everything you need to know heading into tonight’s debate, courtesy of First Read.
- AND: The Feb. 26 Republican presidential debate sponsored by NBC News and Telemundo will take place at the University of Houston, debate organizers announced Tuesday.
CAMPAIGN QUICK READS
Pew has an interesting take on where the Democratic electorate stands going into tonight’s debate.
SANDERS: The senator’s campaign sees tonight as a big opportunity for fundraising from small donors, POLITICO reports.
Buzzfeed notes that Democrats haven’t been able to figure out an effective way of attacking Sanders for being a socialist.
CRUZ: He would like to see conservative radio host Mark Levin as the next speaker of the House.
BUSH: He offered his alternative to Obamacare in New Hampshire today.
FOR THE RECORD…
“Nobody’s bigger than me. Nobody’s better than me. I’m a ratings machine.”
- Donald Trump, in his Saturday Night Live monologue in April 2004.
Jeb Bush campaigns in New Hampshire.
Hillary Clinton speaks to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, then holds a rally in Las Vegas.
Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Richmond, Va.