DNC rejects Yang’s request for new polls ahead of next debate
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is rejecting a recent request from tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang to commission new early-state polling ahead of the January presidential primary debate to make up for the lack of surveys during the holiday season.
Yang sent a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez on Dec. 21 asking him to commission four polls before the Jan. 10 qualifying deadline for next month’s debate.
Yang, who was one of only seven candidates to qualify for the December debate, argued that the dearth of surveys released over the holidays might keep him and others off the stage in January, just weeks before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.
But in an email to The Hill on Monday, a DNC spokesperson said that commissioning its own polls would call into question the national party’s partiality and that its money would be better spent on defeating President Trump.
“The DNC has been more than inclusive throughout this entire process with an expansive list of qualifying polls, including 26 polls for the December debate, more than half of which were state polls,” the spokesperson said.
“The DNC will not sponsor its own debate qualifying polls of presidential candidates during a primary. This would break with the long standing practice of both parties using independent polling for debate qualification, and it would be an inappropriate use of DNC resources that should be directed at beating Donald Trump,” the spokesperson added.
The Yang campaign voiced its frustration Monday, saying it received a response from the DNC after the decision had been reported in the press.
“The DNC chose to respond to the press before they responded to Andrew Yang,” a senior campaign official said. “That should be a key indicator of what their priorities are.”
To qualify for the January debate, candidates need at least 5 percent support in at least four approved national or early-state polls released between Nov. 14 and Jan. 10. The DNC says it extended the qualifying window, making it longer than usual to account for a potential polling drought.
Yang’s letter to Perez noted that only one qualifying survey of Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada had been released in the previous 38 days.
“In an ideal world, with enough time for polls to be put into the field and for the results to come back, I’m certain that myself and a few other candidates would qualify for the January 14 debate with ease,” Yang wrote.
“But with the upcoming holidays and meager number of polls currently out in the field … a diverse set of candidates might be absent from the stage in Des Moines for reasons out of anyone’s control,” he added. “This is a troubling prospect for our party. Regardless of the DNC’s best intentions, voters would cry foul and could even make unfounded claims of bias and prejudice.”
Yang asked the DNC to commission one poll each in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
The DNC has gradually raised the threshold for qualifying for the debates, which resulted in only seven candidates making the cut for the sixth debate, held in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Yang qualified for the December debate and was the only person of color on stage.
He has surpassed the donor threshold for the January debate but has only one qualifying poll under his belt.
There has been a noticeable lack of new surveys released in recent weeks, as it is usually difficult to reach voters during the holiday season.
According to The Debate Tracker website, December is expected to be the only month in 2019 with no qualifying polls released in any of the early-voting states.
CNN polling analyst Harry Enten said last week there have been fewer Iowa polls this year than in any previous caucus season since 2000.
“As you know, big shifts can happen within short periods in this race, as we’ve already witnessed multiple times,” Yang wrote to Perez. “I urge you to seriously consider taking this action with the integrity of the primary process in mind. We must not repeat the mistake of party division in 2016 if we are to defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box in November 2020.”
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