Debates crucial for mid-tier 2020 candidates to 'crack through,' says pollster

Democratic pollster Molly Murphy said Friday that the debates will be crucial for mid-tier 2020 Democratic candidates looking to break apart from the crowded pack.

"I think by Labor Day, what we're looking at now could be a sort of more cemented ... ordering of these more mid-tier candidates," Murphy, a partner at ALG Research, told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons on "What America's Thinking." 

"Does someone sort of crack through and they're neck and neck in a three-way tie with Sanders, Biden, and whoever else it is," she continued. "I think that will largely hinge on debate performance, and just being able to chase and stay ahead of that momentum." 

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenUkrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden campaign taps foreign policy vet Nicholas Burns as adviser: report MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE (I-Vt.) have led most 2020 Democratic primary polls for months, with the other nineteen candidates trailing behind. 

While there is much speculation about what kind of dynamic will play out between Sanders and Biden, other candidates trailing them, such as Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren warns another 'economic crash' is coming The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll New CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegNashville radio host blocked by employer from airing his interview with Buttigieg Buttigieg says white supremacy could be 'issue that ends this country' Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE (D) have made their own headlines. 

The candidates will publicly come face-to-face for the first time on the campaign trail on June 26 for NBC News's primary debate. 

— Julia Manchester