Now that the dust has settled after the latest round of debates in the Democratic primary, here’s an assessment of where the campaign is headed into Fall when the real campaigning starts to take place. If there is one thing we learned from the first two debates, it’s that the field remains divided and no single consensus candidate has yet emerged to consolidate Democratic primary voters and claim the mantle of an uncontested front runner.

Related: Watch the CNN Democratic Debate Night One and Night Two

Former vice president Joe Biden remains the leader, but his numbers are not as strong as they could be which means he’s still in danger of being usurped if voters decide that they want to put a next-generation candidate forward instead of Biden.

The end of the summer months will also mark the end of the road for a good number of candidates who stand no chance at qualifying for the third debate coming up in September. The threshold has been doubled and requires meeting both fundraising and polling qualifications as opposed to the either/or rules of the first two debates.

September debate might feature only 10 candidates

As a refresher, the entrance requirement for the third debate, which airs on ABC on September 12, is as follows:

  1. At least 2 percent in three qualifying polls
  2. 130,000 unique donations from a minimum of 400 donors in 20 states

Both criteria must be met in order to lock-in a podium spot on stage in September. As it stands now, according to a New York Times analysis, these are the 9 candidates who already meet both qualifications as of today:

1. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
2. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey
3. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.
4. Senator Kamala Harris of California
5. Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas
6. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
7. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
8. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
9. Businessman Andrew Yang (see update)
10. Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (see update #2)

Candidates on the verge of qualifying

There are two more candidates who could conceivably qualify for the debate between now and August 28, the deadline for the next cutoff.

1. Tom Steyer (1 poll away)
2. Tulsi Gabbard (1 poll away)

Both candidates have met the donor requirement but they’re short of 1 poll. There is enough time, however, for them to poke their supporters and get a campaign going to help propel them to the next debate. It’s possible that at least 1 or more of these names will be added to the list of 10 before we get to September.

Candidates who face debate elimination

1. John Hickenlooper
2. Kirsten Gillibrand
3. Jay Inslee
4. Michael Bennet

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard seemed to have a reasonably strong performance on Wednesday playing attack dog for Joe Biden and getting under the skin of Sen. Kamala Harris, is at risk of being shut out. If she’s missing from the stage in September, it would leave Biden without an ally. She only has one qualifying poll to her name at the moment and is short on donors. It would be a miracle for her campaign if she managed to break out with some good polling data in the next three weeks and scrape together enough donors, but it’ll be an uphill climb in a short amount of time.

The other name that will likely be missing in September is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York. She’s a big name in Washington, as a Senator, but never caught on with voters on the campaign trail. It’s highly unlikely she’ll get anywhere close to making the cut.

Gov. Jay Inslee, of Washington, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, of New York City, are in the same boat. They have no qualifying polls to their name and no chance at wracking up the necessary number of donors in time.

What does a smaller debate field mean for Biden?

If the debate lineup were to hold at the 10 candidates listed above, that would be a stage filled with around six liberal to very liberal candidates standing with Biden and Klobuchar, the two remaining moderate-leaning candidates in the field. The attacks on Biden’s record as not being progressive enough or bold enough when compared to Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren would be an onslaught.

In fact, we haven’t even seen Warren on stage with Biden yet but you can be sure she’ll be ready to attack him on issues related to banking and bankruptcy law, an issue the two have sparred over previously.

The next Democratic debate airs on September 12 on ABC.


As of Friday, August 9, businessman Andrew Yang has met the requirements and become the ninth candidate to make the September debate stage which also qualifies him for the October debate as well.

Update 2

As of Tuesday, August 20, former HUD Secretary Julain Castro has met the requirements and become the tenth candidate to make the September debate stage which also qualifies him for the October debate as well.


  1. The article states: “If she’s (Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard) missing from the stage in September, it would leave Biden without an ally.” What kind of screwball analysis is this??!! In what universe is Tulsi Gabbard an ally of Joe Biden?

    • After the first debate, she defended Biden against Harris’ attacks. Then at this latest debate she directly attacked Harris taking the focus off Biden. Maybe ally is too strong, but clearly she is making it a point to stick up for Biden and has done so now on multiple occasions. What would you call it?

      • I would call it shrewd political maneuvering. Every other candidate and their dog was going after Biden, but Tulsi did something to distinguish herself. She went after the candidate who had been the most notable in the first debate. And the strategy clearly worked; she generated significant press attention and was the most Googled candidate after the debate.

        In my opinion, there are four categories of Democratic candidates: 1) The true progressives: Sanders, Gabbard, Williamson, Inslee, and perhaps Warren, depending on how her foreign policy positions pan out; 2) The pseudo (corporate) progressives: Booker, Harris, Buttigieg, Gillibrand, O’Rourke; 3) The so-called moderates (Republican lite): Bennet, Bullock, Delaney, Hickenlooper, Klobuchar, Ryan; and 4) Biden, who is kind of in a class by himself as he sort of vacillates between being a #2 and a #3. (Not quite sure about Yang and Castro and whoever else I forgot to include).

        Anyway, the point is that Gabbard is much more aligned with Sanders and Warren (especially Sanders) than Biden. And the pseudo progressives may ultimately be a bigger threat to Sanders and Warren than Biden. By going after the main fake progressive early in the game (while Sanders and Harris concentrate on Biden), Gabbard, while above all fighting for her survival as a debate worthy candidate, was doing Sanders and Warren a much bigger service than she was Biden.

        • Sounds good. But I believe it’s all show. They’ve already decided who is running just as they did last year.

          The Dems are stuck in the back room Chicago smoke filled decision making. (Good old boys)

          Biden and Harris in the end.

          • @disqus_YngmYnCJ5v:disqus

            Why is racist, misogynist trash like Straight Shooter allowed to comment here, making accusations that women he happens not to like (i.e. all women, especially the black ones) are prostitutes?

            • We have taken him to task a few times, but we don’t like to stifle people. We assume that intelligent readers will ignore his silly sexism, and his allies will be embarrassed by it.

            • I am assuming that you mean me. But I need to ask you if anything I said was false? A moderator, I don’t know who removed my posts however the posts of ch355 which were personal attacks on me and were flagged remain. If these obvious liberal biases are prevalent among all the moderators perhaps that is why Disqus is closing down all channels beginning 09/01 of this year. Unfortunately whichever moderator removed my posts will have to be a demigod elsewhere.?

            • We let you rant, but the excess just shows your immaturity. You go so overboard with your diatribes that I don’t know if anyone takes you seriously.

              Most recently, we have a candidate who once dated someone, and much later, became successful in her own right. Yet you call her a whore and go on about it.

              Would you feel so kindly if the other side called Trump a sexist racist rapist who has killed people by encouraging white supremacy and anger? That’s the level of hyperbole you peddle. It’s unwelcome from either side.

            • My immaturity? Whichever moderator it was today bent to the demands of an individual who has posted all of 6 times, last I counted on Disqus. We all have our biases and they should be listened to not deleted. Agreeing with only those you agree with is tantamount to locking yourself in a room with only a clone who will dutifully agree with everything you said. Oh well as I said in my earlier post Disqus is ending its channels in less than a month. I guess we all will gravitate to someplace else, it is however too bad for the moderators as they will be out of work.?

            • One difference is that being a rapist is a bad thing, while having a boyfriend is not a bad thing. Republicans have these the other way around.

            • Then you’ll be disappointed. Trump is still extremely popular among Republicans. This level of over the top sexism and racism won’t embarrass many of Straight Shooter’s allies. Misogyny and racism are two of the most popular ideas among Republicans.

            • Misogyny and racism are catch words among Democrats to hurl at people they don’t agree with. After the next election that will be a wide swath of the country. The Democrats and their fanciful ideas are going to be rejected en masse by the American electorate. The Democratic party will soon be the new Green party.?

          • In my view, it seems the dirty DNC is doing it’s level best to keep Tulsi out because she whipped their ‘anointed cherub’ Kamule who has since been falling like a rock in the polls. Am hoping Tulsi gets in, really. Ha, ha.

        • This is in my view mostly correct, except I’d hesitate to put anyone who opposes medicare for all (Inslee) in the progressives category at this point. It’s an issue that draws a fairly clear dividing line between progressive and liberal/capitalist Dem candidates in the post-Clinton/Obama era. Having said that, Inslee is for me the most difficult candidate to sort into these categories. I don’t agree that Biden can be meaningfully separated from the other Republican-lite candidates. He has some lip service to progressive issues as a residual effect of being tied to Obama, who in turn is wrongly assumed to be a progressive politician by many who don’t really follow politics, but when it comes down to action he always falls into the centre-right lane. That’s who he is.

    • Nate is a political illiterate who has absolutely no idea what’s going on when it comes to the presidential race. He’s a hardline conservative who, as such, gets his information from Fox and Breitbart. He just doesn’t have the capacity to understand the nuances between the various Dem candidates. Not trying to be mean, but that’s how it is. I’ve read enough of these inane ramblings to notice the pattern.

      Nate also has a history of falling for the more insane Republican conspiracy theories, such as Trump’s common lie that millions of illegal immigrants voted in 2016 and that Hillary didn’t actually win the popular vote. I haven’t read much here in the last year or so, but for all I know Nate could be a full-on QAnon nut by now. His track record seemed to point in that direction.

      • I don’t know what website you’re reading because clearly it’s not this one. None of those things you mention have ever been pushed or propagated by me.

        You can trash my writing or analysis I don’t care but don’t spread falsehoods.

        • Yes you have, in the comment sections. You’ve brought up conspiracy theories related to dead people and illegal immigrants registered to vote. I’m not spreading falsehoods. You need to take responsibility for what you write.

          If you were really worried about people spreading falsehoods, by the way, you’d delete every single post Straight Shooter has ever made on this website. But you’re not actually worried about falsehoods, are you?

          • Please share with me links to the comments and threads where I presented or supported those conspiracy theories. They don’t exist. You’re either intentionally misrepresenting it with no evidence or you’re confusing me with someone else.

            Straight Shooter has been warned and had posts removed on other occasions, was even banned for a period of time.

            If you don’t like me and don’t like the site, why are you here?

            • Is that how you deal with people you don’t agree with? Is it off with their head? Thank God you weren’t around during the French revolution, if you were I am certain you would have worn out the blade on all guillotines.?

            • I stopped reading this website precisely because you were repeating Trump’s conspiracy theories in the comment section. I didn’t save links or take screenshots. For all I know, those comments might not exist anymore. Maybe you realized you were embarrassing yourself and went back to delete them. If that’s the case, then I suppose that’s good for you. To me it doesn’t really matter, as you’re only one of millions of Republican conspiracy theorists out there. You can’t be argued with, and you can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction. This is a problem for you, not for me.

            • If you leave, the site will be in the hands of your opponents.

              As for Nate’s integrity, I will vouch for it. He and I agree on many things, but seriously disagree on others. It has always impressed me that he has been generous and evenhanded even when he has been attacked.

              Stick around.

            • My opponents are, broadly, the capitalist/liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Are those commonly represented here? I can’t even view the Republicans as my opponents, as their “ideology” can be boiled down to either “do nothing” or “destroy things”. I don’t think the GOP has any purpose other than white nationalism and downright neo-nazi rhetoric at this point, so I don’t view them as political opponents as much as an existential non-sentient threat to civilization, comparable to climate change. Put in Game of Thrones terms, Republicans are the White Walkers, but Republican-lite Democrats are the Lannisters. The former are an imminent threat that must be dealt with first. Afterwards, adults with different opinions can discuss actual topics of interest without the constant background noise.

            • I’m sorry but I think you’re nuts. I haven’t deleted a thing since these comments you attribute to me were never there. I write objectively about both sides. That is the intention of this website from day one. You don’t need to argue with me on anything since I’m not here to espouse partisan opinions. There’s plenty of that everywhere on the internet already. So read my stuff or don’t read it, your choice. Disagree and argue with my analysis, I welcome it. Have open discussions, that’s the point of this website.

          • @Nate

            See? This is the idiocy you feed into. You’re not helping this person in his struggle with severe mental illness. This guy is the next El Paso shooter, and we can ALL see it. Ban him permanently, or you are complicit in his actions, present and future.

            • Right wing, white nationalists commit almost all acts of terrorism in the United States. Your writings are the exact predictors of domestic violence and terrorist attacks. If you see something, say something. I’ve seen you.

            • @Nate

              That was not a very long timeout. Now he’s back and doubling down on his death threats. Are you aware that this is illegal, i.e. punishable by law. Why is your website so dedicated to hosting domestic terrorism?

            • Thanks to your infantile whining I have been banned from Election Central. Unfortunately for you Nate who you always run crying to like a scalded dog isn’t the moderator of all Disqus. ?

              Are you a member of the Lame Stream Media aka as FAKE NEWS? The fact that I told you to stick your head in an oven is in no ways a death threat. That I call you a wuss is also not a death threat. It seems that there was a deficiency in your mental development that doesn’t allow you to differentiate simple comments from malicious intent. I’ll bet you are the proud product of a left wing American school.?

            • “See? This is the idiocy you feed into.”

              I’m not feeding into anything, I tend to stay completely out of the comments section and only intervene when necessary. As Goethe said, you can either ignore, respond, or let an insane comment stand for what it is and let the user who posted it simply look crazy. You can even personally block users that you don’t like on Disqus, you don’t need me to do that for you or police every comments section of every website for you.

              I take a very “hands off” approach to the comments. In fact, I loathe the comments section but some users like it and it generates good discussion sometimes. Other times, not so much. You had some good comment on my analysis, then for some reason you attacked me personally in an unprovoked manner. I have no idea why you chose to do so when my goal is simply to provide an open forum for all opinions, yours included.

              Everyone relax and simply respect each other. I have removed some of Straight Shooter’s posts and removed him temporarily from the site because threats against other users are not allowed.

              Article comment threads are a terrible place to have meaningful political discussions, yet that’s where they all seem to take place.

            • This doesn’t “look crazy” to Republicans. Straight Shooter’s racist comments are right in the Republican mainstream. That’s the problem.

            • You’re demonstrating why comment sections on the internet are just examples of extremists calling extremists extreme, and vice versa.

              You’re calling him extreme (he is) and then you espouse a broad extreme view of your own and yet the irony of it all completely escapes you. As a result you want him banned but if someone wants YOU banned for calling the “Republican mainstream” racist what should I do? Ban you or defend your right to an opinion?

            • Do what you want, it’s your website. Your ridiculous moral relativism is not doing anything for me. You might not have any moral compass, but I sure do. And I believe being a racist is much worse than correctly identifying racist statements and attitudes. If you can’t tell the difference, you’re gonna have a rough life.

            • Thanks for the lecture. We’ll do our best to move on without your guidance. It’ll be hard but we’ll manage.

              Let me know when you find the comments I never said. I noticed you dropped that when you were called out. Your apology is accepted.

            • I’m afraid that would be a bit too difficult for Nate to follow. I thought my simplified version was more appropriate for his intellectual level.

            • To clarify, is it now your opinion that the conspiracy theory peddled by Trump and others that millions of illegal immigrants are voting in presidential elections is incorrect?

  2. I’m happy to see many of the candidates who should never have run in the first place, or should have run as Republicans, starting to drop off. These include Bennett, Bullock, Delaney, Hickenlooper, Ryan, Swalwell and Williamson. I still believe Castro, Yang and Gabbard should have a spot on the stage, as their absence leaves the field less diverse in terms of political ideas. Having said that, only Castro among these has a realistic chance of improving his status significantly as the race progresses.

    • Are you kidding? The only one who made sense in the last debate was Bullock. He said, if the Democrats keep promoting ridiculous plans it is tantamount Fed Xing the next general election to Donald Trump. He was correct in as much the crack pot ideas some of the ultra progressive Democrats have will never be bought into by the majority of the American electorate.?

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