The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is drastically changing the requirements for upcoming primary election debates, reports Politico. After the New Hampshire primary, the individual donor threshold will be completely eliminated.
In order to qualify for the February 19 debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, the candidates will have to earn at least 10 percentage points in four polls released between January 15 and February 18, or 12 percent in two Nevada or South Carolina surveys. Furthermore, if a candidate earns at least one delegate in either New Hampshire or Iowa, they will qualify for the upcoming debate.
The DNC's decision to drop the aforementioned rule benefits billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a fully self-funded candidate and major Democratic Party donor, who had started surging in the polls after spending a record-breaking amount of money on television advertisements and similar ad campaigns.
In a statement, DNC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson argued that the change is necessary at this stage of the primary process.
"The donor threshold was appropriate for the opening stages of the race, when candidates were building their organizations, and there were no metrics available outside of polling to distinguish those making progress from those who weren't."Some candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have suggested that Bloomberg needs to be allowed on the debate stage in order to be properly vetted by other White House hopefuls and the public alike.
Not everyone agrees with the DNC's sudden decision to change the rules, however. In a statement, Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, pointed out that rules remained intact when candidates such as Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, and Julián Castro failed to qualify for the debates."To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong," Weaver said.
"Now, suddenly because Mr. Bloomberg couldn't satisfy one of the prongs, we see it get changed? That's the definition of a rigged system where the rich can buy their way in."Bloomberg's late entry in the Democratic primary has changed the dynamics of the race. The billionaire is running an unconventional campaign -- one where he has skipped Iowa and New Hampshire, focusing exclusively on Super Tuesday states and hoping to win support by blanketing the airwaves with ads. It remains unclear who stands to benefit from the former New York City mayor being in the race. According to some of former Vice President Joe Biden's allies, the billionaire could end up eating into fellow moderate Biden's support, thus likely helping Sanders. But, according to Bloomberg ally Steve Rattner, the candidate is in the race to stop Sanders and act as a centrist alternative to Biden.