(Tom Toles/The Washington Post)

I’m Karen Tumulty, and this is Round 26. At long last, the Power Rankings have been kicked off their parents’ insurance — pressure’s on, Sen. Sanders.

The Commentary

Are you ready to start talking about the next debate?

The Democratic candidates are, as you probably know from the frenzy of fundraising pitches you are seeing on your Facebook feed.

Particularly for the lesser-known ones, the challenge of staying on the debate stage is about to get much tougher. The Democratic National Committee has set the qualification for the mid-September showdown in Houston higher. By August 28, candidates must have gotten contributions from at least 130,000 individual donors and register at least 2 percent in four polls. This is significantly higher than the either-or test to get into the first two debates: 1 percent in three polls or 65,000 donors.

So far, eight candidates have been guaranteed spots in the Houston debate. They are pretty much who you would expect: former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

A host of polls will be coming out soon, and just a little bit of buzz from the debate might be enough to make some of the lower-tier candidates register. Building a base of contributors is doable as well — but only if a campaign already has the money to troll for people who will contribute $1 apiece.

Next week, pretty much the entire field will descend on Iowa, as will much of the national political press corps. The candidates will be looking not only for a preseason boost going into the February caucuses but also a way to catch some attention that could get them closer to the debate threshold.

For those who fall short, the time for a serious reckoning will be at hand. There are a couple — John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, and Steve Bullock, the current governor of Montana — who might want to give some further thoughts to switching their energies to Senate races. And for others, it will simply be a question of facing reality.

— Karen Tumulty

The Ranking

Ranking not showing? Click here.

Position Challenger Change Over Last Ranking
1. Joe Biden
2. Elizabeth Warren UP 1
3. Kamala D. Harris DOWN 1
4. Bernie Sanders
5. Cory Booker UP 1
6. Pete Buttigieg DOWN 1
7. Julián Castro UP 2
8. Amy Klobuchar DOWN 1
9. Andrew Yang UP 5
10. Beto O’Rourke DOWN 2
11. (TIE) Michael Bennet DOWN 1
11. (TIE) Tom Steyer
13. (TIE) Tulsi Gabbard ADDS TO RANKING
13. (TIE) Tim Ryan DOWN 1

Falls off ranking: Jay Inslee, Seth Moulton

Also receiving votes: Steve Bullock, Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Moulton, Marianne Williamson

Last week’s ranking: Round 25 | If Biden is toast, why’s he still so far ahead?

Don’t forget to click on the yellow highlighted text above to expand the Ranking Committee’s annotations. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, good luck picking your dollar candidate.

Read more on 2020:

Karen Tumulty: How Elizabeth Warren won both nights of the Democratic debate

Megan McArdle: Kamala Harris turns out to have a glass jaw

Eugene Robinson: The Democratic debate makes one thing clear: It’s time to narrow the field

David Ignatius: The debaters eerily sounded like ‘America First’ Democrats

Josh Rogin: Tulsi Gabbard’s Syria record shows why she can’t be president