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DNC Raises Qualifying Thresholds for Fifth Presidential Debate

September 23, 2019 by Dan McCue
From left, Democratic presidential candidates New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Maryland congressman John Delaney take part in the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The Democratic National Committee announced its qualification criteria for the fifth Democratic presidential primary debate, which is scheduled to be held in November.

As in the case of the most recent presidential candidate debate, the November criteria require the White House hopefuls demonstrate broad-based support by meeting both a grassroots fundraising requirement and a polling requirement.

But in a departure from past debates, here are now two pathways to reach the polling requirement. 

To qualify under the more stringent “four-poll threshold,” the candidate must receive 3% or more support in at least four polls. These can be national polls, or single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada). 

BUt now there’s also a new polling pathway provides candidates with the opportunity to qualify for the debate by demonstrating a higher level of early state support through fewer qualifying polls.  

To qualify under this so-called “early state polling threshold,” the candidate must receive 5% or more support in two single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada. 

This is a new polling pathway that DNC officials say is meant to reward candidates who may be generating enthusiasm in key states even if it isn’t registering in national polls.

Grassroots Fundraising Threshold

In addition to the polling criteria, candidates must also demonstrate that their campaign has received donations from at least:

  • 165,000 unique donors (that’s up from 130,000 donors for September and October); and
  • A minimum of 600 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states, U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia.

Qualifying donations must be received by 11:59 P.M. on the date that marks seven days before the date of the November debate. 

An acceptable certification that the fundraising threshold has been reached and may include verification from ActBlue or NGP VAN regarding the campaign’s fundraising.

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