Two candidates who were on stage Thursday night in Los Angeles for the sixth Democratic debate are in danger of missing the next primetime event.
Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and businessman Tom Steyer are each a long way from meeting the Democratic National Committee’s threshold to qualify for the Jan. 14 debate in Des Moines, Iowa, the last one scheduled before the state’s caucuses, now just seven weeks away.
To qualify, candidates must reach at least 5 percent support in four qualifying polls or 7 percent in at least two early state polls from either Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada. Candidates must also show a minimum of 225,000 donors, including at least 1,000 donors across 20 states.
Five candidates have already met the January debate threshold, including former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will likely meet the polling requirement but still needs to garner additional unique donors to meet the 225,000 threshold.
Steyer has reached 5 percent in only two of the DNC’s qualifying state or national polls, and Yang has reached 5 percent in only one. The candidates have until Jan. 10 to meet the DNC’s standards.
Missing next month’s debate in Iowa, which is scheduled to take place little more than two weeks out from the state’s critical, first-in-the-nation caucuses, would be a major blow to any campaign seeking to stay competitive past the early contests in the race.
Steyer and Yang’s absence from the stage, however, could be particularly damaging to each of the candidates’ White House ambitions, forfeiting a primetime opportunity to make their last pitch to voters before going to the caucuses. Neither of the candidates has yet achieved top-tier status in the race, leading in either national polls or any early nomination contest.
Then-candidate and front-runner Donald Trump boycotted the Iowa debate in January 2016 over an ongoing feud with Fox News and placed second in the Iowa caucuses to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz largely as a result of the decision. Trump admitted days later that it was likely a mistake to skip the event.
This article has been updated since publishing.