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There Will Now Be 12 Candidates In The October Democratic Primary Debate

That was fast — on Saturday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard received her third qualifying poll for October’s Democratic debate; today, she got the last one she needed. Because she has now earned 2 percent support in four national or early-state polls released by an approved pollster since June 28, and has also reportedly met the debate’s minimum fundraising requirements of 130,000 unique donors (including at least 400 individual donors in at least 20 states),1 Gabbard is now the 12th candidate to make the debate stage by our count.

Twelve candidates have qualified for the October debate

Democratic presidential candidates* by whether and how they have qualified for the fourth primary debate, as of Sept. 24

Candidate No. of Polls Polls Donors Qualified
Joe Biden 19
Pete Buttigieg 19
Kamala Harris 19
Bernie Sanders 19
Elizabeth Warren 19
Cory Booker 16
Beto O’Rourke 13
Andrew Yang 11
Amy Klobuchar 9
Tom Steyer 7
Julián Castro 6
Tulsi Gabbard 4
Marianne Williamson 1
Michael Bennet 0
Steve Bullock 0
John Delaney 0
Tim Ryan 0
Joe Sestak 0

* For candidates considered “major” by FiveThirtyEight.

To qualify for the fourth debate, a candidate must reach 2 percent in at least four national or early-state polls from qualifying polling organizations and must have at least 130,000 unique donors, including at least 400 donors in at least 20 states. Information released by campaigns is used to determine whether a candidate has hit the donor threshold. If a campaign announced it had reached 130,000 donors but did not say whether it had at least 400 donors in 20 states, we assumed that it had met the latter requirement as well.

Sources: Polls, campaigns, media reports

The poll that put her over the top was a Monmouth University poll of New Hampshire, which was also notable for other reasons. The survey showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (with 27 percent support) and former Vice President Joe Biden (25 percent) leading in the Granite State, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (12 percent), South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (10 percent) and Sen. Kamala Harris (3 percent). Gabbard got 2 percent, along with four other candidates — but all of them had already made the debate stage.

In addition to Gabbard, the 10 candidates from the September debate plus Tom Steyer have qualified for the October debate, which will take place at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, and will be hosted by CNN and The New York Times. Although the Democratic National Committee has not yet announced whether the debate will be one night or two, it’s difficult to imagine 12 candidates squeezing onto one stage. In all likelihood, then, Gabbard’s qualification means that we will have two nights of debating once again — the first on Tuesday, Oct. 15, and the second on Wednesday, Oct. 16.


  1. We rely on self-reported figures from the campaigns for candidates’ fundraising numbers.

Nathaniel Rakich is a senior editor and senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.