It’s hard to believe, but we’re only a few months out from the first debates in the 2020 Democratic primary. An ungodly number of candidates have already announced their intentions to run, with even more waiting in the wings. Now, the Democratic National Committee has announced criteria for qualifying for the first debates, according to the New York Times.
From the Times:
Party officials, anticipating a rush of candidates eager to grab a spot in the nationally televised forums, created a new set of standards that would accommodate a maximum of 20 candidates. To qualify, a candidate must either reach 1 percent in three approved polls or raise at least $65,000 from 200 donors in 20 different states. Each candidate’s slot will be selected by a random drawing.
These criteria will apply to the first two debates, which will each take place over two back to back weeknights in June and July. The DNC will likely change the criteria again after that.
The first debate will be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo while CNN will host the second. The exact dates, times, and locations have yet to be determined.
The DNC expects to hold a total of 12 debates during the campaign.
“Because campaigns are won on the strength of their grass roots, we also updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before,” DNC chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.
In the 2016 campaign, the DNC was criticized by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for only scheduling six debates, two on weekends. After facing pressure, the committee increased the number to ten.
It’s possible that some of the candidates who have already announced will drop out before the first debates if they can’t make the cut. Richard Ojeda, the former West Virginia lawmaker who voted for Trump before becoming a Democrat, announced he was dropping out of the nascent campaign in January. And there are others we’ve barely heard from since they announced. John Delaney? Andrew Yang? Marianne Williamson???
What are their chances do any of these aspiring candidates have of appearing in the top 20? We still don’t know. Big names like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are sure to make the cut, but as we wait on potential candidates like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to announce, it’s still anyone’s game.