Only These 7 Candidates Have Qualified for the Next Democratic Debate So Far

By Zachary Stieber

Twenty Democratic presidential contenders faced off over two debate nights this week, but the next round of debates could feature fewer contestants as only seven candidates have qualified for the higher benchmarks required by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The following seven candidates have qualified: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), and Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Several other candidates are close to qualifying: former Obama administration housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and businessman Andrew Yang. Castro and Yang said they’ve met the donor threshold but are lacking one or more polls. Klobuchar has hit the poll criteria and is on track to hit the donor threshold, according to her campaign.

The next round of debates will take place on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13 in Houston and will be hosted by ABC News.

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) (L-R), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) , former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio during the Democratic Presidential Debate in Detroit, Michigan at the Fox Theatre on July 31, 2019. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
beto o'rourke and elizabeth warren
Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), left, watches former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The DNC announced that candidates will need to receive 2 percent or more support in at least four national polls or polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada.

The polls must be released between June 28 and Aug. 28 and conducted by only certain pollsters. The polls cannot overlap in terms of being in the same state or region or by the same pollster.

Candidates must also have received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors and have a minimum of 400 donors in at least 20 states by Aug. 28.

The criteria were increased from those necessary for appearances in the CNN debates. Those thresholds required 1 percent or more in four different polls or receiving campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states.

tulsi gabbard at debate
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) speaks on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit on July 31, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speaks while Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) (L) and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg listen during the Democratic Presidential Debate in Detroit, Michigan at the Fox Theatre on July 30, 2019. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apart from the seven who have qualified for the next debates and the three who are close, few other candidates appear close to meeting both thresholds.

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper each have a poll or two toward the four needed, but the 11 other contenders have none. The trio is also currently short on the unique donors needed.

CNN’s two debates this week featured 20 candidates in total.

In addition to the aforementioned candidates, the debates featured former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), author Marianne Williamson, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).