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- The Democratic primary debates for September and October have significantly more strict qualifying thresholds, and the 2020 presidential field has thinned out considerably.
- Candidates had to reach 2% in at least four separate polls approved by the Democratic National Committee and receive at least 130,000 individual donations, which must also include 400 donors in at least 20 states or US territories.
- In total, 12 candidates met both thresholds to qualify for the October debate, which will be hosted by CNN and The New York Times in Westerville, Ohio tonight, October 15.
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A grand total of 12 Democratic presidential candidates will be on stage for the DNC debate taking place tonight, October 15, in Ohio.
The number of donors candidates had to receive was doubled to a minimum of 130,000, with at least 400 donors coming from 20 different states or US territories. The candidates also had to obtain at least 2% in four separate national or early-state polls approved by the Democratic National Committee.
And unlike the first two sets of debates in June and July, candidates had to meet both the polling and donor minimums, instead of being able to qualify but meeting just one of them.
The stricter debate requirements have considerably thinned out the field.
Since late August, Gov. Jay Inslee, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Seth Moulton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mayor Bill de Blasio all dropped out of the race after they failed to qualify for the fall debates.
In total, these 12 candidates met both thresholds to qualify for the October 15 debate, which will be co-hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.
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After narrowly missing the requirements to make the September debate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii qualified for October by earning 2% in a Monmouth University poll of New Hampshire. In the July debate, Gabbard’s biggest moment was going after Sen. Kamala Harris over her record on criminal justice.
Last week, Gabbard threatened to boycott the debate after accusing the DNC and “corporate media” of “rigging” the election against her, but ultimately backed off from her threat.
Billionaire liberal activist and first-time political candidate Tom Steyer only entered in the race in July, but met the requirements to qualify for the October debate by spending millions of dollars on Facebook ads in early primary states.
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Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro made a huge splash in the first two debates by putting the issue of immigration on the agenda and taking his opponents to task over the issue. He became the 10th candidate to qualify for the fall debates on August 20.
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Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur and first-time political candidate, has a huge online fan base known as the Yang Gang which helped him achieve the 130,000 donor requirement with relative ease. He qualified for the fall debates on August 8 after reaching 2% in a Monmouth University poll of Iowa.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota got her fourth qualifying poll from a Fox News survey in late July, and her campaign announced she had obtained 130,000 donors on August 2, shortly after the second round of Democratic debates.
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Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas received large financial support early on in his campaign. He has also polled well in a number of individual state surveys, and easily qualified for the next round of debates.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey surpassed both the polling and fundraising criteria in July, securing a spot in the fall debates.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has out-raised many of his Democratic colleagues, nabbing support from big Hollywood celebrities in the process. Buttigieg has also polled higher than much of the field, securing a spot in the fall debates.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has climbed in polls after a rocky start to her campaign. She has also cultivated a grassroots, small-dollar network of supports fueling her campaign’s finances.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California received a big boost in both donations and polling support after her performance in the first June debate.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a massive national list of donors from which to solicit funds. Sanders also regularly falls in the top tier of candidates in most polling, despite losing some traction in recent months.
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Former Vice President Joe Biden easily dominated the polling aspect, regularly trouncing the rest of the field in most major surveys. For donations, Biden raised more than $20 million in the second quarter of 2019.