Who’s Going to Qualify for Next Week’s Democratic Debate?


Tony Dejak/AP Photo

12 Democratic presidential candidates stand on stage before the October 15, 2019 debate in Westerville Ohio.

Lindsey Ingrey, Co-Editor In Chief

Only ten Democrats have qualified for the debate next Wednesday (November 20th). They are former Vice-President Joe Biden, senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), senator Bernie Sanders (VT), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, senator Kamala Harris (CA), entrepreneur Andrew Yang, senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), senator Cory Booker (NJ), Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and billionaire Tom Steyer. Of these debate-qualified candidates, Biden, Warren, and Sanders are leading the polls, followed by Buttigieg and Harris. These ten candidates represent just over half of the current Democratic field, which stands at seventeen. What requirements did the DNC put in place to limit participation in the debate?

The requirements put in place by the DNC touch on individual voter donations to discourage campaigns from relying completely on large donations from private individuals or other groups. Candidates had to receive donations from 165,000 individual donors to qualify. DNC Chairman Tom Perez explained the donor requirements in a CNN interview last June, saying, “You can’t win the presidency in the modern era if you can’t build relationships with the grass roots.” Candidates also had to meet one of two polling requirements: they had to poll at 5% in two polls in the four early primary states (i.e. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina) or they could poll at 3% in four polls in other early states or national polls. Only polls released between September 13 and November 13 of this year counted towards this requirement. 

The fifth Democratic primary debate will air on MSNBC on November 20th at 9 pm ET. It will be co-hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post, with NBC correspondent and host Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, and Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker moderating.