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First Democratic Debate To Feature All Top 10 Candidates Facing Off Together In Houston

HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) — The road to the White House — at least for the Democratic Presidential candidates — leads through Houston.

For the first time, all of the top 10 candidates will be facing off against each other at the same time. Only 10 qualified, so unlike earlier debates, 20 candidates won't be spread out over two nights.

The three frontrunners who have double digits are former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says he thinks the debate will be exciting to watch.

"We're going to see some sparks fly. I think there are going to be several different battles. Lots of people will be shooting at Biden because Biden is leading the national polls by 10. But Warren is rising so I expect some people to shoot her as well," Jillson said.

There are at least 500 media representatives credentialed for the debate.

It's taking place at Texas Southern University, one of the largest historically black colleges.

Both Texas Democrats, former El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke and former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro are taking part in the debate.

Jillson says they will get some attention at the debate because this is their home state.

Neither O'Rourke nor Castro are in the top tier of candidates, and Jillson says it will be difficult for them to win the debate out-right and suddenly move up.

"Homeruns are very unusual. What they need to do is to over-perform expectations, to look solid, to look informed, maybe land a blow. You got to gain a little momentum because they're not going to rise to the top tier overnight," he said.

Right now, Biden still leads all recent Democratic primary polls in Texas. In two of the latest Texas polls, Warren rose to second, surpassing O'Rourke. But O'Rourke has recently been in second place in just about every other poll.

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