UPDATED with another candidate quitting race: Tonight marks the deadline for candidates to qualify for the next Democratic debate, to be hosted by ABC News and Univision on September 12, and so far it looks like 10 will qualify.
Political pundits pointed to two new polls on Wednesday — one from USA Today and Suffolk University, the other from Quinnipiac University — that suggested that a slew of the nearly two dozen White House hopefuls will fail to qualify for the next event, which is critical to establishing visibility, fundraising and viability. There is still until the end of the day for more qualifying polls to come out, but as of now the debate looks to be a one-night event, rather than the two we saw in both June and July.
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According to FiveThirtyEight, the candidates who have met the threshold for the next debate are Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Andrew Yang.
Roughly speaking, the qualifications for the debate are that candidates draw at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls released between June 28 and August 28 and that they draw a minimum of 130,000 individual donors.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist, was the closest to making it into the next debate, but he failed to register at least 2 percent in the latest polls. Contenders such as Marianne Williamson, Tulsi Gabbard and Kirsten Gillibrand also are struggling to qualify.
The Democratic National Committee made the rules more stringent for the third debate, with hopes of narrowing the field. The first two debates stretched over two nights with 10 candidates on the stage for each, making it a special challenge for producers hoping to make the events more than a set of stump speeches.
If more than 10 candidates qualify for Round 3, the debate will be split up into two consecutive nights — September 12 and 13 — with candidates assigned to each night by a random drawing.
Steyer and some of the other candidates have been complaining about the DNC’s debate criteria, but failure to make this next event doesn’t necessarily doom their campaigns. The criteria for the fourth debate, to be held some time in October with a media sponsor to be announced, is similar. They have to make it to 2 percent in four qualifying polls, but those since June 28 still will count. That means that they will get more weeks for better polling data — and that we may still see more two-night debates.
Separately today, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York quit the White House race today. She joins former Dem presidential hopefuls who have exited including former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Set Moulton of Massachusetts, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and former West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda.