The participants in this month’s Democratic primary debates have been decided, and all but three of the 2020 hopefuls have made it. The sidelined candidates are Rep Seth Moulton, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Florida Mayor Wayne Messam.

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) announced late Thursday night the 20 Democratic candidates who have been selected to appear onstage in Miami for the first round of primary debates. The debaters were required to obtain 1% of the vote in at least three different official polls, as well as receive donations from 65,000 individual donors. While 1% of the vote may seem like a trivial achievement, with 23 different Democratic contenders vying for the presidency it becomes quite hard for any individual politician to stand out enough to receive any votes at all. However, most of the candidates made it, filling up the 20 eligible spots opened up by the DNC.


As there are so many presidential hopefuls running this election cycle, the DNC has decided to split the debates up over two nights, June 26 and 27, with ten politicians onstage each night. In order to avoid a “kids table” fiasco such as the Republican primary debates in 2016, where the high tier candidates were placed in one debate and the low tier ones in a separate debate, the DNC has promised to fill each debate with a mix of high- and low-profile candidates. Party officials will divide up the contenders into two groups—those with over 2% in the polls, and those with under 2%, and then put an even number of speakers from both groups into each debate.


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The actual lineups of each night are to be selected by the DNC on Friday, and are the source of much anxiety for many of the candidates. With so many smaller contenders in the race, many debaters hope to rise to prominence by punching up and attacking the more well-known candidates such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Even the big name runners are likely to use attacks as a way to bring themselves into the limelight, as many candidates have been slamming others for their extreme-liberalism or lack of, in the case of Biden.

While this set of debates is sure to be crowded, the second round of primary debates is likely to be much more sparsely attended, as the DNC requirements for participation become even harder to achieve. By calling for 130,000 individual donors and 2% of the vote, the Democratic National Convention is denying the spotlight to any candidate who cannot garner a significant amount of support, ensuring that the primary field will be whittled down before Democrats even go to the polls in the Iowa primary.

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