There will now be at least nine participants in November’s Democratic debate! On Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar earned 3 percent support in a new Quinnipiac University national poll. It was the final piece of the puzzle she needed to qualify for the debate, which will be held on Nov. 20 in Georgia.
As a reminder, the Democratic National Committee’s qualifying criteria for the fifth debate require candidates to get at least 3 percent support in four national or early-state1 polls sponsored by a DNC-approved organization or at least 5 percent in two early-state polls.2 Candidates also need contributions from at least 165,000 individual donors (including at least 600 individual donors from each of 20 states or territories).3
|No. of Qualifying polls||MET THRESHOLD FOR …|
|Candidate||Overall ≥ 3%||Early State ≥5%||Polls||Donors||Qualified|
Klobuchar’s qualification might come as a bit of a surprise, considering that, just a couple of weeks ago, she had only one qualifying poll under her belt. But after the October debate, in which she had a strong performance, she’s ticked up enough in the polls to hit 3 percent in three qualifying polls conducted in the past week. However, don’t call it a surge; she has yet to get above 3 percent in any recent national poll and sits at 2.0 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average. If she is breaking through anywhere, though, it might be in Iowa, where she has been focusing her campaigning. Two of her four qualifying polls came from that state.
Even though the qualifying criteria for the fifth debate are stricter than previous debates, they haven’t done much to winnow the field from the 12-candidate stage in October. Only three candidates from that debate are on the outside looking in for November. Of those three:
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke appears to have the best chance of making it; he has two of the four polls he needs to qualify. If he qualifies, that would bring the November stage to an even 10 debaters.
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard only has one qualifying poll so far, so her odds of making the stage are longer. Her lone qualifying poll, however, came right on the heels of the October debate, so the timing is probably encouraging to her campaign.
- Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, though, is in pretty bad shape. He has yet to pick up a single qualifying poll, leaving him in real danger of missing a debate for the first time. Previously, Castro has said that not qualifying for the November debate would “be the end of my campaign.” His campaign also seems to be teetering on the edge of viability generally, as he has also threatened to drop out of the race if he does not raise $800,000 by the end of October.
As for all the other “major” candidates (by FiveThirtyEight’s definition), not one has a single qualifying poll, nor have any of them met the donor threshold, so the other five candidates in our table seem very unlikely to make it. So the real question is whether O’Rourke, Gabbard or Castro can pull a Klobuchar and nab several qualifying polls in quick succession to make the November debate stage. They might have to — the Nov. 13 deadline to qualify is coming up fast.