The Democratic National Committee completely overhauled the qualifying criteria for primary debates after the February debate in New Hampshire. Candidates seeking to participate in the Feb. 19th debate in Las Vegas will now have to reach a 10 point threshold in four national polls, or 12 percent in two polls from South Carolina or Nevada. The DNC also completely eliminated the donor threshold; normally, candidates would have to obtain a certain number of individual donors. Now, donor status has no stake in debate qualification.
This move received backlash from liberals, especially Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) because the elimination of the individual donor requirement paves a path for former Mayor of New York City Mike Bloomberg to be on the debate stage.
The DNC is allowing Bloomberg to buy his way onto the debate stage. https://t.co/SRFdRjpynM— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) January 31, 2020
DNC changing the rules to benefit a billionaire. I much prefer Democrats being a grassroots party. And under Bernie Sanders, that's the way it will be. https://t.co/D7cTi7ObVN— Faiz (@fshakir) January 31, 2020
Michael Bennet’s campaign on debate rules: “The DNC is making these rules up as they go. An arbitrary donor threshold never should have been a requirement to begin with and has resulted in qualified candidates, like Booker and Gillibrand, leaving the race."— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 31, 2020
Sanders campaign on DNC debate rule change: “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. That’s the definition of a rigged system.”— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 31, 2020
The increased polling requirement will likely lead to more candidates leaving the race. Democrats face their first test Monday during the Iowa Caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary and debate in early February. These new debate rules will be implemented for the Las Vegas debate on Feb. 19th, ahead of the Nevada caucus.