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Who Won the Democratic Debate?

February 12, 2016, 4:07 AM UTC

The gloves have certainly come off.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders squared off for the sixth time on Thursday evening, in a debate moderated by PBS news anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. As in previous debates, much of the debate was focused on domestic issues like healthcare, campaign finance, and income inequality.

The stakes for the two candidates, however, have been raised. Clinton, coming off of a bad loss in New Hampshire, needs to win big in the next primary state, South Carolina. For that reason, the tenor of Thursday evening’s event was more heated than previous Democratic debates.

The latest polls taken in South Carolina — which were performed before the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, mind you — showed Clinton had a lead of around 30 points. Sanders doesn’t need to win South Carolina, but he needs to have a good showing to prove that he can compete nationally, including in diverse states.

Thursday evening’s debate was essentially a draw—both candidates landed some good lines, and pushed their opponent on a few issues. But a stalemate ultimately constitutes a win for Clinton.

Thursday evening’s debate seems unlikely to have changed anybody’s opinion on the two candidates. With Clinton leading in the next primary state, that spells good news for her.

The latter half of the debate delved into foreign policy, where some differences between the candidates did spring up, namely in how the two would go about addressing global terrorism.

Perhaps the most contentious moment of the debate came toward the event’s conclusion, when Clinton hit Sanders hard for claiming President Barack Obama had been ineffective as a leader, something Sanders called a “low blow.”

The South Carolina Primary will be held on Feb. 27.

Editors Note: An earlier version of this story said the South Carolina Democratic Primary would be on Feb. 20. It is on Feb. 27.