Democratic National Committee Set To Tighten Debate Requirements And Shrink Field

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris on stage
Win McNamee / Getty Images

The crowded Democratic primary field will shrink significantly by the end of 2019, according to a new report from Politico, which reveals that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is set to tighten debate requirements.

Ten presidential candidates participated in the September debate, and 11 have already qualified for the October edition, but the November and December debates will feature significantly fewer White House hopefuls. Within weeks, the DNC will “drastically” tighten the debate criteria, since small changes are predicted to have a significant impact.

The exact donor and polling criteria for the November and December debates is not yet known, but according to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, the bar will be raised because candidates “have to make progress.”

“As we get toward November, December, obviously we will continue to raise the bar of participation, because that’s what we’ve always done,” he said.

As Politico notes, simply raising the polling requirement to 3 percent — the candidates were required to poll at 2 percent to participate in the September debate, and only 10 met the criteria — is guaranteed to significantly impact the dynamics of the race.

As Peter Brown, a former polling analyst for Quinnipiac University, explained, a number of candidates would have to double their support to make the stage, which is “not impossible, but tough.”

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, billionaire Tom Steyer, and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker would be in jeopardy, since they have not been able to reliably hit 3 percent in the polls.

If the DNC decides to up the criteria to 5 percent, nearly all but the strongest candidates would be affected. Apart from the trio of front-runners — former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — only South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Democrat Kamala Harris would be safe.

Candidates such as entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke would also have a hard time meeting the 5 percent threshold.


A number of candidates have already dropped out of the race, and Cory Booker could be the next candidate to end his campaign.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, it was revealed on Saturday that Booker will end his campaign unless he manages to raise nearly $2 million within the next 10 days.

“Without a fundraising surge to close out this quarter, we do not see a legitimate long-term path forward,” an internal memo written by Booker’s campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, reads.

Booker confirmed the speculation via Twitter, explaining that the memo is not an “end-of-quarter stunt,” but a “real, unvarnished look under the hood of our campaign.”