The 2020 Democratic primary has over twenty candidates, which has led to two nights of debates in June and July with ten candidates each night.

Chaos has ensued in those two debates. This may not happen in the third debate since only seven candidates have qualified so far.

The third debate will take place on September 12 and 13 in Houston, TX. If only ten candidates qualify then only one debate will happen.

The New York Times did not say what would happen if 12 or 13 candidates reach the threshold.

Due to the overflow of candidates, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) changed the requirements for each debate. The candidates must have 130,000 unique donors and reach 2% in four polls to participate in the third debate.

These candidates have qualified:

  • Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
  • Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.
  • Senator Kamala Harris of California
  • Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas
  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

Three other candidates may meet the requirements in time: “The former housing secretary Julián Castro and the entrepreneur Andrew Yang have surpassed 130,000 donations and each have three of the four qualifying polls they need, while Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has met the polling threshold and has about 120,000 donors.”

Activist Tom Steyer has two polls while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI) and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper have one poll. The requirements may impede the others:

Beyond them, only three candidates have even a single qualifying poll to their name: the impeachment activist Tom Steyer (2 polls), Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii (1) and former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado (1).

We asked all three of their campaigns to provide donor numbers so we could assess where they stood. Ms. Gabbard had just under 114,000 donors as of Wednesday night. A spokesman for Mr. Steyer said he was “on track to collect the required number of donors to make the September debate stage” but did not give a number. Mr. Hickenlooper’s campaign did not respond, but Politico reported a month ago that he had only 13,000 donors.

The other 11 candidates in the race have no qualifying polls to their name, and they all went into this week’s debates seeking a viral moment that would attract new donors and lift them, even briefly, in the polls.

Candidates have received boosts in polls after the two debates, but they must have 2% on August 28.

Yang may have already qualified. He tweeted on Monday that he met the polling and donor requirements. The DNC sent out an email on Tuesday to all campaigns that polls do not count if sponsored by the same organization.

Yang received 2% in two polls from NBC. The email said that the “[C]andidates may only count one NBC-sponsored national poll released during the current qualification period.”

The new rules state that if the same organization sponsored more than one poll it will count if the research took place “in different geographical areas.”

One poll did not specify the locations of the respondents, but the second one concentrated only on southern states.


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