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Democrats Make Higher Thresholds to Qualify for November Presidential Debate

September 23, 2019, 8:25 PM UTC

With an ever-shrinking field, the Democratic National Committee is raising the stakes even higher for presidential candidates to participate in the fifth debate in November.

The DNC said Monday that qualifying candidates must receive 3% in four DNC-approved polls, slightly up from the 2% needed to participate in the third and fourth debates.

An added twist, candidates can also qualify by getting 5% in two approved polls conducted in early-state primaries, including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina.

The polls must be released between Sept. 13 and a week before the November debate to qualify. The location of the fifth debate has yet to be announced. The fourth debate will be held on October 15 (and possibly the 16th) at Otterbein University, a private, liberal arts school of 2,500 students in Westerville, Ohio.

Also, candidates for the fifth debate will now need to get donations from at least 165,000 unique supporters, a spike from the 130,000 needed to participate in the third and fourth debates, including a minimum of 600 donors per state in at least 20 states, territories or the District of Columbia.

Get all of that?

The DNC’s new debate criteria comes a day after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the slightest of leads over Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden, according to the latest Iowa Poll conducted by the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom.

Warren has a 2-point lead with 22% of likely Democratic caucus participants saying she’s their first choice for president. It’s the first time Warren, who has been on a steady climb in other major polls, has led in the Iowa Poll.

Biden, who had led in the past three Iowa Polls, is second at 20%, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been as high as second place falls to third place with 11%.  

No other 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, including South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senators Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Cory Booker of New Jersey, is in double digits.

The Iowa Caucus will be held on February 3, 2020.