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8 Democratic Candidates Have Qualified for the September Debates; Two More Are Likely

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 2, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | August 2, 2019 |


There are 24 candidates still running for the Democratic nomination. Only one, Eric Swalwell, has dropped out so far, although he was quickly replaced by Tom Steyer. Don’t worry: You will not be tested on this, because there’s not much reason for you to remember their names. The same goes for John Delaney — who is currently trying to scare Democrats away from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — Steve Bullock, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bennett, Tim Ryan, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Kirsten Gillibrand and, thankfully, Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard. (I remembered all those names from memory, which tells you only that I have been paying an unhealthy amount of attention to these debates).

None of those candidates — or Seth Moulton (remember him? Nah. Don’t worry about it) — are likely to qualify for the September debates. It doesn’t mean they’re going to drop out of the race, but it does mean that they’re going to be less distracting presences because the media doesn’t pay attention to them anymore, except for Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard, because the news media loves to troll us endlessly (and also, because Gabbard has an army of Russian bots). They’ll still attend Iowa and New Hampshire events for a month or two, but most of those folks will eventually drop out, go back and run in state races, or completely run out of money. It can’t happen soon enough for folks like Gabbard, Williamson, and Delaney, who have basically spent their campaigns throwing firebombs into the Democratic party.

There are eight candidates who, so far, have qualified for the debates: Biden, Harris, Warren, Bernie, Booker, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and, somehow, Beto O’Rourke (really?!) O’Rourke would be wise to drop out now and go run for John Cornyn’s seat in Texas while he’s still got some juice (although, it may be too late already — someone get Julian Castro’s brother, Joaquin, to reconsider and run). Two other candidates are on the cusp of qualifying: Julian Castro (Yes!) and Andrew Yang (eh — he’s less toxic comic relief than Williamson). In order to qualify, they need 130,000 donors and they must register at least 2 percent support in four qualifying polls. Yang and Castro have met the 130,000 thresholds, but have only qualified in three of the four polls they need. Both shouldn’t have a problem qualifying.

Steyer has two qualifying polls, while Hickenlooper and Gabbard both have one, but they’re not close to the 130,000 donor threshold.

Still, it feels like ten candidates are still too many, and enough that they might still have to break up the debates into two nights, which is really time-consuming. I’d like to see Klobuchar, Yang, and O’Rourke give up the ghosts, because there’s no path, but for the other seven? It’s anyone’s game (but probably just Biden and Warren).

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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