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HomeNewsElectionsDNC Announces New Criteria to Qualify for Fifth Debate in November

DNC Announces New Criteria to Qualify for Fifth Debate in November

AdobeStock-107994155-Democratic Debates Red Donkeys

New DNC Qualification Criteria Attempts But Fails to Address Criticisms Over Approved Polls

AdobeStock-107994155-Democratic Debates Red Donkeys
Graphic concept for Democratic debates, with symbolically red donkeys instead of blue. (Photo: AdobeStock)

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) late Monday night released updated qualification criteria for the fifth debate in November. The new criteria tightens donor requirements and outlines two polling pathways to qualify.


The DNC refers to the contributions (donations) section of the qualifications criteria as the “Grassroots Fundraising Threshold”.

To qualify, candidates must have received donations from at least 165,000 unique donors and a minimum of 600 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states, U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia by 11:59 P.M. on the date that marks seven days before the debate.

Candidates must submit a certification from the candidate’s campaign Treasurer by 11:00 A.M. on the day that marks six days before the date of the November debate.

That certification must provide verifiable evidence to show that the fundraising threshold has been reached. It may include verification from ActBlue or NGP VAN regarding the campaign’s fundraising.


Candidates must meet either the “Four-Poll Threshold” or the “Early State Polling Threshold” to qualify for the fifth debate. The DNC bills this as an easing of the rules, but didn’t address the criticism surrounding the list of approved pollsters.

Four-Poll Threshold

The candidates must receive 3% or more support in at least four polls. That can be a combination of national polls or early state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada.

However, each one of the four polls must be from different “Qualifying Poll Sponsors,” or if by the same Qualifying Poll Sponsor, must be in different geographical areas.

Early State Polling Threshold

The candidate must receive 5% or more support in two single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada that meet the DNC’s “Qualifying Poll Criteria.” The two qualifying polls may be in the same or different geographical areas and from the same or different Qualifying Poll Sponsors.

Qualifying Poll Criteria

The following was taken directly from the DNC press release. People’s Pundit Daily (PPD) wanted to report the controversial criteria verbatim.

  • Each poll must be sponsored by one of the following 15 entities or pairs of entities (“Qualifying Poll Sponsors”): Associated Press; ABC News/Washington Post; CBS News/YouGov; CNN; Des Moines Register; Fox News; Monmouth University; National Public Radio; NBC News/Wall Street Journal; NBC News/Marist; New York Times; Quinnipiac University; University of New Hampshire; USA Today/Suffolk University; Winthrop University.  For individual entities that are included only in Qualifying Poll Sponsor pairs but are not listed individually, independent polling by such individual entities or polling conducted in new partnerships with such individual entities shall not meet the Qualifying Poll Criteria. The DNC reserves the right to add a Nevada-specific poll sponsor to this list in the near future.
  • Each poll must be publicly released between September 13, 2019 and 11:59 P.M. on the date that marks seven days before the date of the November debate.
  • Each poll’s candidate support question must have been conducted by reading or presenting a list of Democratic presidential primary candidates to respondents. Poll questions using an open-ended or un-aided question to gauge presidential primary support will not count.
  • Each polling result must be the top-line number listed in the original public release from the approved Qualifying Poll Sponsor, whether or not it is a rounded or weighted number.

Written by

Led by R. D. Baris, the People's Pundit, the PPD Elections Staff conducts polling and covers news about latest polls, election results and election data.

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