DNC sets qualifications for South Carolina debate

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Saturday established the qualifications for candidates to participate in the presidential debate on Feb. 25 in South Carolina. 

To qualify for the debate stage in Charleston later this month, candidates need to reach 10 percent in four polls approved by the DNC or 12 percent in South Carolina-specific polls. The polls must have been released between Feb. 4, the day after Iowa’s caucuses, and Feb. 24.

Candidates can also qualify by winning at least one delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada. 


The debate will take place just days before the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29.

The thresholds for the Charleston debate are nearly identical to those for the Feb. 19 debate in Nevada, with the only differences being a shorter polling window and not counting Nevada-specific polls toward qualifications. 

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Brad Pitt narrates Biden ad airing during World Series MORE, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegLGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharStart focusing on veterans' health before they enlist Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Trump mocks Joe Biden's drive-in rallies at North Carolina event Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWhat do Google, banks and chicken salad have in common? Final debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit Biden defends his health plan from Trump attacks MORE (D-Mass.) have all already qualified for the event. 

The South Carolina debate will be hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, in partnership with Twitter.

The criteria leave the door open for two billionaires, Tom SteyerTom SteyerDemocrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein 2020 election already most expensive ever TV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month MORE and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Biden breaks all-time television spending record Trump squeezed by cash crunch in final election sprint MORE, to make the debate stage. However, neither have qualified for the Nevada debate ahead of the Feb. 18 deadline.


Bloomberg, who has yet to appear on a debate stage after his late entry into the race in November, is one poll away from reaching the threshold for the Nevada debate.

The DNC scrapped a donor threshold for the debates last month. The qualification kept Bloomberg off the debate stage since he is completely self-funding his campaign.

Steyer faces a more uphill battle to reach the threshold by the Tuesday deadline.

The race in South Carolina is expected draw much attention, as the still-crowded primary field seeks to prove their support among African American voters, a key Democratic Party voting bloc that makes up over 60 percent of the state’s primary electorate.