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DNC Raises Thresholds For Candidates To Qualify For December Debate

As we approach the midpoint of the Democratic debate season, the DNC has released its threshold requirements for the sixth Democratic debate in Los Angeles.


As the midpoint of the Democratic debate season approaches, the DNC has released its threshold requirements for the sixth Democratic debate, slated for Dec. 19 in Los Angeles. According to POLITICO, the December threshold is only a “modest step” up from the criteria used to determine whether a candidate qualifies for the Nov. 20 debate.

POLITICO, who is co-hosting the debate with PBS, outlines the latest December requirements:

To make the December debate, candidates must hit 4 percent support in at least four DNC-approved polls of primary voters nationally or in early-voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina) — or, instead, they can qualify by hitting 6 percent in two approved early-state polls. Candidates must also bring in donations from 200,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 800 donors in 20 states, territories or the District of Columbia.

The required benchmarks in December are a mild jump from what was required of candidates in November. Indeed, the requirements are nearly the same, except that the percentage requirements for each threshold have been raised by one percent—from 3 percent to 4 percent support in polls of primary voters nationally or in early voting states and from 5 percent to 6 percent support in two approved early-state polls. The threshold for the number of distinct donors has also been raised from 165,000 for the November debate to 200,000 for the December debate.

Though the DNC refrains from making any official announcements in regards to who qualifies for the debate until after the Dec. 12 deadline passes, independent polls reveal that Biden, Warren, and Sanders should safely appear on the Los Angeles stage in December. Though Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris have both polled above 4% in the past, their respective appearances are less certain.

Andrew Yang and Beto O’Rourke have announced that they have already surpassed the unique donor requirement for the December debate, though O’Rourke has not yet qualified for the November debate.

This jump in debate requirements essentially threatens everyone but the top five, who have enjoyed 4 percent support or higher. The increased threshold requirements represent renewed attempts by the DNC to chip away at a begrudgingly large field of contenders, which at one point, healthily exceeded two dozen candidates. Indeed, in June and July, 20 candidates qualified for the debates. For next month’s debate, just nine thus far have qualified. For the DNC, debate thresholds remain a balancing act between giving all willing candidates their fair shakes and keeping the debates at a size reasonable to facilitate substantive conversation.