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The Democrats’ January Debate Could Feature Less Candidates On Stage — Here’s Why

At the start of the campaign to become the nominee for the Democratic Party to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020, there were two dozen candidates for voters to consider, which required two nights of debate (with 10 participants each) to hear from them all.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Things have changed drastically since then. The sole debate for the month of December featured just seven candidates. And the roster of candidates on the debate stage could shrink down further still in the near future.

The Democratic Party has made it so, as time goes by, participation in future debates will require candidates to reach certain fundraising and polling thresholds.

The debate on Thursday night required participants to meet two specific criteria: a polling threshold (where they needed to attain 4 percent of support or more in four separate polls, or 6 percent or more in at least two early-state polls) as well as a fundraising threshold (200,000 unique donations, with 800 donors from a minimum of 20 different states).

That resulted in two notable candidates, Sen. Corey Booker and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, from not participating in the debate this week.

January will feature another debate between candidates that will have even tighter restrictions. Candidates must now have 225,000 separate donors, as well as reach a 5 percent threshold in four or more polls (or 7 percent or higher in two early-state polls).

As it stands right now, just five candidates have reached those numbers, the New York Times reported:

  • former vice president Joe Biden
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
  • and Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Two candidates who appeared on Thursday night’s debate may not breach the threshold limits placed on January’s debate — Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer may both miss out.