DNC Sets Tough Criteria for Third and Fourth Primary Debates

DNC Chairman Tom Perez / Getty Images
May 29, 2019

The Democratic National Committee announced on Wednesday a new series of criteria for candidates to meet if they want to participate in the party's third and fourth sanctioned debates in September.

To appear in the third debate, co-hosted by ABC News and Univision, candidates must reach a two percent polling average in approved polls and have received donations from 130,000 donors including at least 400 unique donations from 20 separate states.

The Democratic field has expanded to approximately 23 candidates with the recent entrance of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Montana Governor Steve Bullock. The new criteria from the DNC intends to limit how many candidates will be able to participate in debates as the primary process continues.

The third debate will be held on September 12 but the committee noted in its announcement that it would be willing to hold a second debate on September 13 if enough candidates pass the threshold to appear on the debate stage.

Unlike the criteria for the first and second debates, candidates will have to meet both fundraising and polling measures to be invited to participate in the third and fourth debates. Based on current polling criteria only eight candidates would qualify for the third and fourth debate. According to an analysis from FiveThirtyEight those candidates would be: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Cory Booker (D., N.J.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former congressman and failed Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke.

After allegations that the committee rigged the 2016 primary process in favor of Hillary Clinton, the DNC set a low bar for candidates to qualify for the first and second debates. Candidates either have to average one percent in qualifying polls or amass 65,000 individual donations. The low standards have allowed some lesser-known candidates like social entrepreneur Andrew Yang and author and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson to qualify for the first debate while other more established politicians like Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) and Congressman Seth Moulton (D., Mass.) have struggled to cross the criteria for the first debate.

The first debate of the Democrat presidential primary will be held in just under a month on June 26 and 27 in Miami, Florida.

Published under: 2020 Election , Debate