10 Democrats set to debate after other half falls short


Ten Democrats running for president are likely to have qualified for the primary debate next month after the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) deadline to meet its criteria passed on Wednesday night.

That is half of the 20 Democrats who took part in the two previous debates after the DNC doubled the thresholds to make the stage. It will likely mean the debate will take over only one night, on Sept. 12. 

The previous two debates in June and July were spread over a total of four nights, as the DNC has capped the maximum number of candidates who can debate at once at 10.

{mosads}For the September debate, the DNC required each candidate to reach 130,000 unique donors and at least 2 percent support in four DNC-approved polls to qualify.

Ten candidates have met those requirements: Former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas); former tech executive Andrew Yang; and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

The 10 remaining candidates in the Democratic field appear likely to have failed to make the stage: billionaire hedge fund executive Tom Steyer; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii); Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.); New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; bestselling author Marianne Williamson; former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.); and Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam.

The DNC will make a final determination on which candidates make the stage after a certification process.

Candidates who fell short for the September event could still qualify for the October debate, which will have the same criteria.

The qualifying window for both events opened on June 28, but a DNC memo sent to the campaigns earlier this month said that the deadline to qualify for the October debate will be two weeks before it begins.

That would give candidates more time to make the October stage, joining the 10 candidates who will appear in September, who will also qualify for the following debate.

Of the 10 candidates who are likely not to make the stage in September, Steyer is the closest to qualifying, needing only one more survey that meets the DNC threshold after meeting the donor criteria. Steyer has yet to make any of the debates after launching his presidential campaign shortly before the July debate.

Gabbard, who has also met the donor requirement, needs two more surveys. The Hawaii congresswoman made the stage in the previous two debates.

But missing out on the September debate could make it even harder to climb in the polls or attract new donors given that it will deprive candidates of a critical platform to pitch themselves to voters and an opportunity to distinguish themselves in a crowded primary field.

Harris, for example, shot up in the polls after she confronted Biden in June over his past opposition to school busing, while Booker saw his best day of fundraising of the 2020 cycle the day after the July debate. 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) dropped out of the race just hours before the qualification deadline after failing to make much headway in the crowded field.

Some of the candidates who were on the verge of failing to make the cut have grumbled that the DNC’s requirements are too stringent or that the decisionmaking process behind them lacked transparency.

In a statement on Wednesday, hours before the deadline, Steyer’s campaign sent a statement calling on the DNC to expand its “polling criteria in the future to include more early state qualifying polling.”

Meanwhile, Gabbard’s campaign hammered the body last week over its process for selecting which pollsters will count toward the qualifying criteria. 

Tags Amy Klobuchar Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Bill de Blasio Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden John Delaney Kirsten Gillibrand Marianne Williamson Michael Bennet Pete Buttigieg Steve Bullock Tim Ryan Tom Steyer Tulsi Gabbard Wayne Messam

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