Yang, Steyer, Booker May Be on Chopping Block for Next Democrat Debate

Yang and Steyer
AFP/Getty Images

Only five Democrat candidates have met the Democratic National Committee’s requirements to be on the debate stage at the CNN/Des Moines Register debate in Iowa next week, and that does not include Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, or Cory Booker.

Those three will not join former Vice President Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) unless they surge in the polls before Friday’s deadline, Politico is reporting:

Faced with this potential winnowing of the field, the Democratic National Committee has come under new criticism — especially from the candidates on the chopping block. They pointed to a smaller number of polls over the eight-week qualifying period — which included lengthy breaks over both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays — and a weeks-long early state polling drought, urging the DNC to make the polling thresholds more lenient.

But the DNC is refusing to budge, calling its criteria “inclusive” and fair. This week could bring a surge of 11th-hour polls, though Steyer, Yang and Booker still face major headwinds to getting back on the debate stage at a crucial moment.

The DNC thresholds are only modest steps up from last month’s criteria: Candidates need to hit 5 percent in four DNC-approved polls (or 7 percent in two approved polls specifically in early states) between Nov. 14 and Jan. 10, combined with 225,000 unique donors — before 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

Politico reports that Steyer has two of four polls needed, Yang has only one and Booker has not hit 5 percent in any polls. 

Yang and Steyer made it onto the December debate stage but Booker did not.

Non-qualified candidates said the problem is there are too few polls and a poll drought over the holidays. And even though two polls — YouGov and CBS — were released on Sunday, only the five candidates already on stage made the grade.

Adrienne Watson, a DNC spokesperson, said in a statement to Politico:

The DNC has been more than inclusive throughout this entire process with an expansive list of qualifying polls, including 19 qualifying polls thus far for the January debate, 9 [of] which are state polls. In addition, we have not only expanded the list [of] poll sponsors this cycle to include online polls, but we have expanded the qualifying period for the January debate to account for the holidays.

Next week’s debate also has one more wrinkle that could totally upend the stage: the still-unscheduled impeachment trial in the Senate. The trial could keep the three senators who have already qualified for the stage — Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren — in Washington, forcing a last minute change of schedule.

“If a conflict with an impeachment trial is unavoidable, the DNC will evaluate its options and work with all the candidates to accommodate them,” Xochitl Hinojosa, the DNC’s communications director, said in a statement.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.