The deadline for polls that can affect who qualifies for the next Democratic primary debate (to be held July 30 and 31) is July 16, a few days away—so we’ll know very soon who makes the cut. But so far, only five Democrats have qualified for the third debate in September, and, according to analysis from FiveThirtyEight, it won’t be easy for more Democrats to qualify.
To qualify, candidates must have at least 2 percent support in four qualifying national or early-state polls released after the first debate on June 26-27 through two weeks before the third debate on Sept. 12-13 and 130,000 unique donors (including at least 400 individual donors in at least 20 states).1 And while those thresholds might not sound that difficult to meet, it’s definitely raising the ante from the first two debates, in which candidates needed to hit only 1 percent support in three qualifying polls or 65,000 unique donors (including at least 200 individual donors in at least 20 states).
There are still six polls to help determine qualification for the third debate, but so far, only five Democrats qualify. The remaining candidates have only six weeks left to make the cut.
So we’ve got three white guys, a fake Indian, and a fake African American that qualify so far. Beto O’Rourke is on the verge of qualifying, and that would add another white guy (who pretends to be Hispanic) into the mix. Other candidates that have a chance, albeit a slim one, of qualifying are Julian Castro and Andrew Yang, who both have enough donors to qualify (130,00o or more) but need to hit 2 percent or higher in four qualifying polls to make the cut. Senator Cory Booker is 15,000 donors shy of the 130,000 unique donors requirement. His performance in the second debate will be key to meeting that threshold. Any of the candidates that are in striking distance of the unique donor threshold will be the ones to watch closely at the next debate. They need their Kamala Harris moment to stand out and you can bet that attacking any of the frontrunners, particularly Joe Biden, will be crucial to achieving that. Anyone who doesn’t qualify for the third debate will have to kiss their presidential ambitions goodbye.
Matt Margolis is the author of the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published on July 30, 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis