You may be asking why candidates missing the cut for the September Democratic debate can still qualify for the October Democratic debate. That’s a great question and one which the Democratic National Committee(DNC) hasn’t fully explained yet. The mechanics are easy enough to understand since candidates have until Oct. 1 to qualify for the Oct. 15 (and 16th) debate even if they miss the cut for the September debate.

However, the bigger question is why the DNC is allowing the field to seemingly expand once again next month after the September debate will have cut the field entirely in half? The way you view this issue or question may be determined by whether you prefer a candidate who will be on stage in September, or whether your preference got knocked off the list due to a lack of polling support or lack of fundraising.

Either way, the point here is that billionaire Democratic donor and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer received the last poll needed to earn him a ticket to the debate in October which will push the total number of qualified candidates to 11:

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer on Sunday appeared to be the 11th candidate to qualify for the October Democratic presidential debate, his campaign announced.

Steyer received 2 percent support — the Democratic National Committee’s threshold for poll qualification — in a new CBS News/YouGov poll surveying Nevada, giving him the required four polls at 2 percent or higher he needed to qualify. Steyer had reached the needed 130,000 unique donations needed for debate qualification last month.

The polling did not come in time for Steyer to reach the stage in this week’s debate, set for Houston.

We had been forecasting the strong likelihood of Steyer’s ability to muscle his way into the October debate. He was literally just a couple of weeks shy of making the September cut after dumping millions of his own money into advertising in early caucus and primary states, hoping to grab one more poll giving him 2% support.

October Debate Candidates

At the present, here is the lineup for the October Democratic Debate, which is set for the 15th and 16th since the field, now larger than 10, will be split over two nights. As a reminder, candidates who qualified for the September debate are automatically qualified for October:

NumCandidatePolls AND DonorsDonors Only
1Joe Biden
2Cory Booker
3Pete Buttigieg
4Kamala Harris
5Amy Klobuchar
6Beto O’Rourke
7Bernie Sanders
8Tom Steyer
9Elizabeth Warren
10Andrew Yang
11Julian Castro
12Tulsi Gabbard
Not Qualified
13Michael Bennet
14Steve Bullock
15John Delaney
16Wayne Messam
17Tim Ryan
18Joe Sestak
19Marianne Williamson

Steyer pushes the number of candidates to 11 which means that the debate will happen over two nights in October. There’s also plenty of time for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard or author Marianne Williamson to get the polls they need to earn an invite as well.

As Politico reports, Gabbard needs 2 more polls, but they have been elusive even after a recent round of polling came out in the last few days:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is the next most likely candidate to qualify for the October debate, needing 2 additional qualifying polls. Gabbard did not break 2 percent in any of the new CBS/YouGov polls.

Gabbard is among the handful of candidates locked out of the September debate who voiced their displeasure with the arbitrary list of acceptable polls which the DNC has approved as valid sources for debate participation. In fact, Gabbard’s campaign said they have polling support, but the DNC doesn’t count those polls:

“Rep. Gabbard has exceeded 2% support in 26 national and early state polls, but only two of them are on the DNC’s ‘certified” list,’ her campaign said. “Many of the uncertified polls, including those conducted by highly reputable organizations such as The Economist and the Boston Globe, are ranked by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight as more accurate than some DNC ‘certified’ polls.”

The real anger among candidates like Gabbard is the way the DNC has selected a list of acceptable polling firms even though polls from other polling outlets follow the same scientific methods of sampling. Nothing is likely to change with the DNC rules, but Gabbard does still have time to make the October stage.

Follow out 2020 Democratic Debate schedule for all details on the third Democratic debate, happening on Sept. 12, and the fourth Democratic debate, happening on Oct. 15-16.