Poll: Majority of Democrats say debate rule change is positive overall

A new Hill/HarrisX poll finds Democratic voters say that the DNC's recent debate rule change, which eliminates the donor threshold, is a positive adjustment overall. 

The survey shows 52 percent of Democratic voters said that the change is positive because it will increase the number of perspectives and voices in future debates.

In addition, 48 percent of Democrats said the change would only benefit wealthy candidates that can self-finance their campaigns .

Conversely, just 32 percent of Republican voters who participated in the survey said they believed that the recent rule change was a positive one. Sixty-eight percent of Republican voters believe that the new rule change will benefit wealthy candidates. 

A majority of independent voters, one of the critical groups to watch during the upcoming general election, said that the new rule change benefits wealthy candidates at 56 percent. Forty-four percent of independents say that they think the rule change is a positive one overall. 

A majority of registered voters overall believe the DNC's rule change will only benefit wealthy candidates, at 57 percent. Forty-three percent say it is a positive move overall.

Additionally, the poll asked whether or not voters are in favor of the DNC changing the debate rules. A plurality, 45 percent, said they were unsure and 41 percent said they support the rule change while 14 percent said they oppose it.

Democratic pollster and partner of ALG Research, Molly Murphy, told The Hill, "A plurality of voters aren’t sure whether they favor or oppose the elimination of the donor requirement. This is sort of change is very inside baseball and not the sort of thing most voters are aware of." 

The DNC's decision has come under scrutiny by other Democratic candidates, like Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJudd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Biden's 'allies' gearing up to sink his campaign Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenJudd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Vogue's Anna Wintour urges Biden to pick woman of color for VP Biden should name a 'team of colleagues' MORE (D-Ma.), who believe the change heavily favors Former New York City Mayor, Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE who has been climbing in recent national polls.

Bloomberg, who has been self-financing his candidacy, has not yet made it to the debate stage due to the previous donor threshold rules, but now has a chance of qualifying for the next Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nev.

The next Democratic debate is set to take place just a few days before the Nevada caucuses.

The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 1,000 registered voters between Feb. 7 and 10. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


—Gabriela Schulte