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Washington CNN —  

With 183 days until the Iowa caucuses and a record number of Democratic candidates, the 2020 election is already in full swing. Every Sunday, I outline the 5 BIG storylines you need to know to understand the upcoming week on the campaign trail. And they’re ranked – so the No. 1 story is the most important of the coming week.

5. The Detroit debates’ aftermath: Sometime this week we should start to see some polling that was conducted entirely after the second set of Democratic debates in Detroit.

Given how much California Sen. Kamala Harris (and, to a lesser extent Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren) shot up the polls in the wake of solid performances in the first debates in June, expectations are high that the second debates could have a similar effect on the massive Democratic field.

That would be a good thing for Sens. Cory Booker (New Jersey), Warren and Bernie Sanders (Vermont) – all of whom had very solid debates. It might be less kind to Harris and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who clearly struggled in the debates.

I’m intrigued to see how post-debate polling treats former Vice President Joe Biden, whose debate performance was hugely uneven.

4. How long can you hold on?: That’s the question a lot of candidates will be fielding this week as the realities of the race set in. The second debate is in the rearview mirror and it’s going to be hard for many of these third-tier (and below) candidates to qualify for the third debate in September (much more on that below).

That group includes Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, spiritual guru Marianne Williamson and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.

At some point that is likely soon, these candidates’ ability to pay their staffs and travel around the country will be curtailed by their lack of polling progress – and the fundraising that follows. Go into debt or drop out? That’s the question a lot of candidates have to ask themselves now.

3. The scramble for September: It’s August! (This should not be news to you. If so, please see me after class). That means that this is the last month where the 2020 Democratic candidates will not debate until the calendar turns to 2020!

BUT, that doesn’t mean you can just stop thinking about the debates. Far from it! Although the next debate isn’t until the second week of September, candidates have only until August 28 to qualify for it.

How do you qualify? You need 2% support in four qualifying polls and 130,000 individual donors. So far, Biden, Harris, Sanders and Warren are in, as are South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and O’Rourke. 

That’s eight. Who’s on the bubble? Businessman Andrew Yang, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii all have hit the fundraising goal but are short of the polling one.

2. All Iowa, all the time: My favorite state fair in the country – Iowa (sorry Texas!) – starts Thursday, and 2020 candidates will flood the fair (and the state) on its first weekend.

Biden and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will be at the fair on Friday, speaking from the Political Soapbox (it’s just a raised platform in the middle of one of the fair’s thoroughfares; it’s also the site of Mitt Romney’s “corporations are people too” comment in 2012.) Every candidate will find a way onto that soapbox before the campaign is over.

The following day – aka Saturday – is the state Democratic Party’s Wing Ding – amazing name! – that will have a who’s who on stage in search of Iowans’ votes. The roster of candidates includes the Big Four: Biden, Harris, Sanders and Warren.

1. A(nother) gun control debate? Within the space of 13 hours, 29 people were killed in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

This – mass casualties produced by shooters armed to the teeth – is not new. In fact, in the last two decades it’s become numbingly normal. What’s different about this is that the shootings happened so close to one another in time – and that nearly 30 people were killed in the two incidents.

The question now is whether the time proximity will do anything to affect the stagnant politics around guns. To date, there’s very little indication it will. 

O’Rourke, the former Texas lawmaker who represented his hometown of El Paso in Congress, reacted to the shootings in the Lone Star State by saying that President Donald Trump is a white nationalist – and suggested Trump had created a culture of intolerance and hate where these sorts of acts become more commonplace. A number of O’Rourke’s 2020 Democratic rivals echoed that sentiment; Sanders called for a ban on assault weapons.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (New York) said Sunday that Congress should come back to pass the House-approved universal background check law. But with Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate, any action on guns seems very unlikely. Especially when you consider that Congress is gone from Washington until after Labor Day.