Democratic presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard have just one week left to qualify for the next Democratic primary debate or they will miss one of the last nationally televised debates before the Iowa caucus on February 3.
Each candidate has to meet a threshold for each debate, determined by the Democratic National Committee, that increases as the campaign process continues. These are intended to narrow a crowded primary field to just a few candidates.
Missing the debate does not signal an end of a campaign in any regard but candidates that miss the debates miss crucial nationally televised airtime where they can address their supporters and potentially pick up new ones. Gabbard missed the September debates but qualified for the debates in October and November.
Without Yang or Gabbard on the next debate stage, the candidates will lack any minority representation.
So far, only six candidates will be on the debate stage: former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and billionaire Tom Steyer.
Gabbard and Yang have already cleared the fundraising threshold, and each has received at least 4 percent in three polls approved by the Democratic National Committee. They have until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 12 to get the fourth qualifying poll needed to make the debate stage.
Yang, in particular, has come tantalizingly close to qualifying for the December debate. He’s hit 3 percent in 11 different approved polls, both nationally and in early states, leaving him in some cases just a couple poll respondents away from that elusive fourth poll.
Gabbard recently cried foul after she hit 6 percent in a New Hampshire poll released by The Boston Globe and Suffolk University, arguing it should qualify her for the debate. The campaign argued that the DNC should recognize the poll because other Suffolk University polls, when conducted in conjunction with USA Today, count toward qualifying. But previous Boston Globe/Suffolk University polls have not counted toward qualification for the five previous debates, and the DNC has not given any public indication that it was considering otherwise.
Several other candidates have failed to qualify for the debates, including Senator Cory Booker, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and primary newcomers Mike Bloomberg and Deval Patrick.
Bloomberg, a billionaire, and Patrick, a governor, were late entrants of the Democratic primary and have failed to make an impact on any national polls. Bloomberg, previously ranked the sixth wealthiest person in America by Forbes, is also financing his own presidential campaign (he claimed he would not accept campaign contributions), effectively preventing him from meeting the donor thresholds for ensuing debates.
“Three other candidates who are still in the race — Sen. Michael Bennet, former Rep. John Delaney and Marianne Williamson — have not participated in any sanctioned debates since the first two rounds held over the summer, and are miles away from clearing the thresholds to return to the stage in December,” Politico reports.
Senator Kamala Harris qualified for the debate but suspended her campaign earlier this week due to a lack of funding.