Tougher rules set stage for fewer Democrats in December presidential debate

Henrietta Brewer
October 28, 2019

The sixth presidential debate will be held at UCLA on December 19, during winter break.

The Democratic National Committee is again increasing its polling and fundraising requirements for presidential candidates to qualify for participating in the campaign's sixth debate in December. These polls must be released between October 16 and December 12.

The chairman has defended the moves, saying that campaigns have had plenty of notice and that candidates who couldn't meet the qualifications weren't building the support necessary to defeat President Donald Trump next year.


Biden, Warren and Sanders have already qualified for the December debate, according to POLITICO's tracking (participation is not official until the DNC certifies candidates have passed the threshold, after the deadline has passed). 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. Candidates will need to hit 4% support in at least four DNC-approved polls of national primary voters or in early-voting states.

As for adjustments to the donor threshold, candidates should get donations from 200,000 distinctive donors, with a minimal of 800 donors in 20 states, territories or the District of Columbia.

Alternatively, they can meet a 6% support threshold for two single-state polls, which can include Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada.


The DNC, since it began hosting presidential primary debates this summer, has consistently raised the thresholds for the contests, slowly shrinking the field of Democrats have are on the high-profile debate stages.

The required benchmarks in December are a mild jump from what was required of candidates in November. Only polls released between October 16 and December 12 will be considered.

Amy Klobuchar introduced Thursday that she met the for the November debate, becoming a member of, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. Indeed, in June and July, 20 candidates qualified for the debates.


The even more stringent criteria for the December debate could trim the field even further.

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