Several Democratic presidential candidates are complaining that the new Democratic National Convention (DNC) requirements for a candidate to enter into a presidential debate are unfair. With the 2020 Democratic field so crowded, the DNC has begun to implement stricter requirements to participate in the presidential debates that are to take place later this year. While many presidential hopefuls have been struggling to meet the bar for entrance into the 2019 June and July debates (65,000 donors and 1% in the polls), the newly announced prerequisites for admission to the September and October debates are sure to narrow down the field considerably.


In order to participate in the later debates, a candidate needs to garner 130,000 individual donors and 2% in an official poll. So far at most six candidates have managed to meet the donor threshold, with Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris publicly announcing their success in meeting that goal. While Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke have not officially declared that they have reached the threshold, most strategists suspect they have due to their receiving over 100,000 donors on the first day of their campaigns. Only seven other politicians have even gotten halfway to the benchmark. The polling results are similar, with eight candidates managing to snag over 2% of potential voters: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, Klobuchar, Booker, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke. While the dozen or so other presidential candidates are still short of the new bar, they have until after the first round of debates to garner the necessary support.

Some candidates have decried the DNC’s new regulations as unfair, claiming that they will remove some contenders from the race before they even have a chance to really gain momentum. Additionally, the focus on donors requires many candidates to pull funding from organizers in early primary states such as New Hampshire and Iowa. Because the deadlines for qualifying for the presidential debates are well before the start of the primaries in 2020, the DNC requirements are effectively culling the field before the voters actually cast their primary ballots, removing some of the importance of the primary states.

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Other groups have lauded the new DNC rules, praising the decision to base qualification on both polling and donors as an effective way to measure the potential success of a candidate. Various high-level political strategists have said that if a presidential hopeful is unable to garner sufficient grassroots support to reach the individual donor threshold then there isn’t much chance of that candidate being able to motivate supporters later. Furthermore, by narrowing down the field now, the DNC is ensuring that the debates will allow candidates to have enough screen time to make themselves distinct, as opposed to having a debate between over a dozen politicians at once.

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