Skip to Content

2020 Democratic Primary Debates: Everything You Need to Know

2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls are struggling to stand out in a crowded race of nearly two dozen candidates, as the first televised debates are coming up.

But the threshold to qualify for the upcoming primary debates has kept some candidates off the stage, depriving them of the opportunity to reach millions of voters as the country moves into the 2020 election cycle.

Here’s everything else you need to know about the 2020 Democratic primary debates, from schedules to candidates.

Which candidates made it into the first Democratic Debate?

The candidates who will appear in the first two Democratic debates are:

  • Joe Biden
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Kamala Harris
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Cory Booker
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Michael Bennet
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Tim Ryan
  • Eric Swalwell
  • Tulsi Gabbard
  • Jay Inslee
  • John Hickenlooper
  • Julian Castro
  • Bill de Blasio
  • John Delaney
  • Andrew Yang
  • Marianne Williamson

Which candidates didn’t make it?

The Democratic candidates who did not make the first debate are Steve Bullock, Wayne Messam, and Seth Moulton.

What is the Democratic primary debate lineup and schedule?

The debates that have been announced are …

June 26–27 — Miami

The lineup for June 26 will feature Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, and Jay Inslee.

The lineup June 27 will feature Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bennet, Marianne Williamson, Eric Swalwell, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Yang, and John Hickenlooper.

July 30–31 — Detroit

Sept. 12–13 — Location not yet determined.

How do candidates qualify for a Democratic debate?

The Democratic National Committee announced threshold requirements in February, with 2020 presidential candidates needing to focus their efforts on polling and campaign donations.

In order to qualify for the debates in June and July 2019, all candidates must either earn at least 1% of voter support in three national polls approved by the DNC, or receive donations from at least 65,000 people from at least 20 different states. There should be a minimum of 200 unique donors per state.

The number of debate participants is capped at 20.

Are the debate requirements fair?

DNC chair Tom Perez maintained that each candidate will have “unprecedented opportunities to make their cases to the voters,” whether they make the debates or not.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s campaign had issued a complaint over how the DNC is choosing debate candidates, specifically when it comes to polling. Bullock’s campaign argued that he cleared 1% in an open-ended Washington Post/ABC News poll from February, in which voters chose their preferred candidates without choosing from a list of candidates.

But the committee is not considering the results of open-ended polls for participation in the first debates on June 26 and June 27.

“If the DNC rules are trying to shape who’s going to be in this campaign against Donald Trump in 2020, when voters are still 250 days away from even expressing a preference, democracy suffers,” Bullock told BuzzFeed News. A DNC spokesperson said the committee notified Bullock’s campaign in March that open-ended polls would not be accepted for inclusion in the debates, though that restriction was not publicly outlined until last week.

The DNC will also change its threshold regulations for the third and fourth debates scheduled for September and October, by doubling the marks that have been set for the first two debates.

“As you get closer to the primaries and caucuses, you’ve got to demonstrate progress. That is not a new concept,” Perez said. “If you want to win the presidency, you’ve got to raise money through the grass roots and connect with the grass roots.”

Some candidates said the thresholds are arbitrary and were concerned by the lack of transparency from the DNC when determining them. Former U.S. Representative and 2020 hopeful John Delaney argued that the fundraising requirements would negatively impact low-income voters who can’t afford to make campaign contributions. Delaney said their voices should be relevant, too.

More must-read stories from Fortune:

Democratic debate watch parties—and drinking games—are a thing

—Meet the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates you’ve (probably) never heard of

—Issues that divide 2020 candidates going into the first Democratic debate

—These are the top-polling Democratic candidates

—The 2019 Democratic debate clashes you won’t get to see

—What to know About the 2019 Democratic debate: start time, schedule, format