DNC Again Bumps Up Debate Thresholds

Candidates must have 165K unique donors, hit 3% in four polls to make November debate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 23, 2019 3:24 PM CDT
DNC Bumps Up Requirements to Make November Debate
A scene of the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Democratic National Committee is increasing the polling and fundraising requirements for presidential candidates to qualify for the primary campaign's fifth debate in November, the AP reports. But in a nod to the potential for late-surging campaigns, the increases are not as steep as those from the first and second debates during the summer to the third and fourth debates after Labor Day. To make the November debate, candidates must have at least 165,000 unique donors, with at least 600 each in at least 20 states. That's up from 130,000 donors—with 400 donors each in at least 20 states—for September and October. Candidates also must hit 3% in at least four national or early state polls—or hit 5% in two early state polls. The DNC has not yet announced the date or location of the November debate.

The separate early state threshold is a new polling pathway that DNC officials say is meant to reward candidates who may be generating enthusiasm in states like Iowa or New Hampshire even if similar support isn't registering in national polls. The party's Monday announcement comes as candidates make their final fundraising pushes to qualify for the Oct. 15-16 debates in Ohio. The requirements from debate to debate have been heavily scrutinized by candidates and party activists alike, as the DNC juggles potentially conflicting priorities: keeping a historically large field from being too unwieldy for voters while keeping the promise that everyone running would have a fair shot to make a case on the national stage. The changes are immaterial to the top tier of candidates: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. A few candidates trailing behind them—Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke—also have already met or are within striking distance of those November marks.

(More Election 2020 stories.)

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