This post has been updated with the latest.
After being criticized for setting up the 2016 debate structure in a way that benefited Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee is going out of its way to host as many candidates as possible on the debate stage. But that brings up a host of new criticisms such as: What is a fair determinant for who gets to be on the stage? Do the rules promote candidates who are already well known or who can make the most viral video? And is the DNC punishing those who decide to get into the race later?
The nuances of how the debate rules work could get more important as the June 12 cutoff nears for the first debate, which is scheduled for two nights, June 26 and 27. (The DNC says it will randomly assign 10 candidates to one night and 10 to the other.) Another debate will be held over two nights, July 30 and 31.
How to qualify for the debate: It is an either/or scenario. You either must have 65,000 people donate to you from across 20 states OR you receive 1 percent of support in three polls the DNC deems as qualified. Those rules are actually very inclusive, so much so that the DNC may have to narrow them again before the first debate.
The DNC decided to cut off the number of candidates who can qualify for a debate at 20. It could be close. Of the 23 major candidates running, 19 appeared to have made the debate, according to a Fix analysis and campaign statements, and four are still trying to get there. We will update this list.
Who’s missing the debate stage as of now: 4 candidates
1. Michael F. Bennet: He has been a U.S. senator from Colorado for a decade, but because he entered an already crowded race in late May, he will have to scramble to reach the donor and polling threshold.
2. Bill de Blasio: The New York mayor announced his candidacy a week ago, giving him a month.
3. Wayne Messam: The Miramar, Fla., mayor is struggling to meet both the donations and polling threshold.
4. Seth Moulton: The congressman from Massachusetts, who has been in the race for a month, has not cracked 1 percent in three polls nor has his campaign said they have reached the 65,000-donor threshold. Like for many on this list, that could change in time for the July debate.
Who’s in but right on the bubble: 7 candidates
These eight candidates have qualified with one criteria, either polling or donations. Which means that if more than 20 make the debate stage, they could be cut. (To determine who gets cut, the DNC would average each of the below candidates’ highest showing in three qualified polls and rank the candidates from there.)
1. Steve Bullock: The Montana governor and chair of the National Governors Association is another big-name candidate who may have gotten into the race too late to be absolutely secure he’ll be on the stage. He’s qualified on polling and his campaign said he raised $1 million in his first 24 hours but hasn’t announced he’s reached 65,000 donors yet.
2. John Delaney: The former Maryland congressman, who has been in the race for more than two years, has made the polling requirement but is going hard on the donations. For every dollar donated to his campaign, he is offering to PAY $2 out of his own wallet to charity.
3. Kirsten Gillibrand: The New York senator’s campaign has not said she has made the donor list, and she seems to be right on the line on polling. A top campaign official to Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) donated to her, saying her voice is needed on the debate stage in the wake of the Alabama abortion ban. (Hey, a donation is a donation, according to the rules.)
4. John Hickenlooper: The Colorado governor reached the polling qualifications in March.
5. Jay Inslee: The Washington governor qualified on polling in May, but his campaign has yet to announce he’s reached the donor qualification that would give him extra security.
6. Tim Ryan: The Ohio congressman appears to have qualified in polling, but a Politico analysis finds some discrepancy on what polls count — such as an unconventional Washington Post/ABC News poll that asked people in an open-ended question whom they support.
7. Eric Swalwell: The California congressman appears to have qualified by reaching 1 percent in at least three polls in late April.
Who’s definitely in: 12 candidates
If more than 20 make the debate stage, these 11 candidates will make the new cutoff because they have qualified on both polling and donations:
- Former vice president Joe Biden
- Sen. Cory Booker: After making a big push for donors this past month, the New Jersey senator celebrated by Face Timing with his 65,000th donor.
- South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Also, his name is pronounced BOOT-EDGE-EDGE.
- Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: The congresswoman from Hawaii is one of the lesser-known names to be in this top tier of debate qualifiers.
- Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)
- Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke: His campaign said he got money from twice as many donors as he needed within the first 24 hours of announcing his candidacy.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)
- Marianne Williamson: The spiritual author was the only candidate to qualify on donors alone. But as of Thursday, she has qualified for the debate in polling as well by reaching 1 percent in there polls, securing her spot on the stage.
- Andrew Yang: Yang, a businessman, is another lesser-known name guaranteed a spot on the debate, though he has been drawing big crowds.
Who probably won’t make it: A lot of people
Mike Gravel: The 89-year-old senator from Alaska who last held office in 1981 got convinced by several teenagers to run to promote his antiwar ideas, though he is not actively campaigning. In an Instagram post in late April, Gravel’s campaign announced he is running to win.
The 141 other minor Democratic candidates running for president — yes, that many have filed their candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.