The December Democratic debate will take place on the 19th and be held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles according to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). PBS NewsHour and POLITICO will co-host the event which will be aired on PBS stations nationwide as well as streamed by POLITICO and various PBS digital outlets.

We’re also learning that the participation threshold for the December debate is being tightened which will inevitably lead to a smaller field and a smaller number of candidates on stage.

PBS NewsHour/POLITICO Democratic Debate (6th Debate)
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Location: Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles
Sponsors: PBS NewsHour, POLITICO

The fundraising threshold for participation has been increased somewhat compared to the October and November debates, with the December event requiring at t least 200,000 unique donors, and a minimum of 800 individual donors per state in at least 20 states. This is an increase from the prior threshold of 165,000 unique donors and 600 individual donors per state threshold.

The polling standard has also been increased in a way that will cut the field down more than the donor requirements.

To make the December debate, candidates must hit 4 percent support in at least four DNC-approved polls of primary voters nationally or in early-voting states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina. Alternately, candidates can qualify by hitting 6 percent in two approved early-state polls and forgo the national polls.

The approved list of polling organizations hasn’t changed. The list includes the 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 and Winthrop University.

The key thing to note on polls is that there is a specific time frame the DNC will be looking at when it comes to considering a valid poll. According to the DNC release, qualifying polls must be released between Oct. 16 and 11:59 p.m. and the deadline of Dec. 12 in order to count toward participation in the December debate.

December debate candidates

Based on these guidelines, as of today, the December debate stage could be quite limited:

The new thresholds will put pressure on Democratic candidates outside a top five — Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris — who have routinely polled above 4 percent in approved surveys so far.

Biden, Warren and Sanders have already qualified for the December debate, according to POLITICO’s tracking (participation is not official until the DNC certifies candidates have passed the threshold, after the deadline has passed). Buttigieg and Harris both need 4 percent support in one more poll to make it on stage.

If Biden, Sanders, and Warren are already in, and we say that Buttigieg and Harris will probably also make the cut, then we could be looking at a stage of five candidates in December. The donor requirements are not insurmountable for most candidates, but polling support at four percent or higher will prove difficult.

Looking at the national polls, Andrew Yang seems like the only candidate outside the top five to have a chance at making December. He doesn’t hit 4% support often, but he has managed to make it happen more than once. The issue will be the timing of the polls with the window between Oct. 16 and Dec. 12. That’s approximately a two-month period for candidates to bring in good polls, and that’s going to be tough. Yang does have one 4% poll from days ago, but it’s from Emerson College, a pollster not on the DNC approved list.

December may be the true culling of the field from nine candidates in November down to just five.

Follow the details on the Democratic debate schedule page for all the latest.


Due to security concerns, the location for the December debate has been changed to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles instead of UCLA.