With the January debate fully in our rearview, the next Democratic debate will take place after the Iowa caucuses. With that in mind, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has altered the rules that govern which candidates can earn a spot on the debate stage. Typically the candidates would be beholden to polls and donor numbers, but the new rules for the February 7 debate at St. Anselm College will also include a carve-out for any candidate winning at least one pledged delegate from the Iowa caucuses.

With the New Hampshire primary taking place on Feb. 11, here are the new details for the first of three February Democratic debates:

ABC/WMUR New Hampshire Democratic Debate (8th Debate)
To be determined
Friday, February 7, 2020
Watch On: ABC
Live Stream: ABCNews.com, WMUR.com, Apple News
Location: St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH
Sponsors: ABC News, WMUR, Apple News

How candidates qualify

Candidates can qualify if they capture donations from 225,000 individual donors, in addition to receiving at least 5 percent support in four polls, which can be national polls or surveys of voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Iowa is excluded from this list since the Feb. 7 debate takes place after the Iowa caucuses.

The candidates have a window for polls released between Dec. 13 and Feb. 6, the day before the New Hampshire debate, to qualify based on polling.

The new alternative way that a candidate can qualify is tied to the Iowa caucus results. Any candidate who is awarded at least one pledged delegate to the Democratic National Convention based on the results of the Iowa caucuses, as reported and calculated by the Iowa Democratic Party, will be able to participate. In other words, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg could earn a spot on the debate stage if he manages to nab 1 pledged delegate despite his decision to not accept individual fundraising donations.

Debate candidate list

As it stands today, the same six candidates would qualify to be on stage for the Feb. 7 debate, with the addition of any candidates that earn at least 1 pledged delegate in the Iowa caucuses.

Joe Biden
Pete Buttigieg
Amy Klobuchar
Bernie Sanders
Tom Steyer
Elizabeth Warren
Andrew Yang
Not Qualified
Mike Bloomberg
Michael Bennet
John Delaney
Tulsi Gabbard
Deval Patrick

It’s possible that someone like Andrew Yang or Mike Bloomberg could earn a delegate, though they would need at least 15 percent support in some individual precincts to do so. The lift is heavy, but it seems more plausible for Yang than for Bloomberg. Yang is someone who may surprise on caucus night with a level of support that ends higher than his poll numbers as caucusgoers are forced to shift around their preferences in successive rounds of head counting.

Beyond New Hampshire

There will be two additional debates in February: one on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, prior to the Nevada Caucuses, and another in Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 25, just before the South Carolina Primary. qualifications for those two debates have yet to be announced, but will likely be similar in that they will open the stage to candidates winning delegates in prior states.

It is likely that two more debates will be added into March, but the details and dates have not yet been announced.

Follow the 2020 Democratic debate schedule page for all the latest information including live streams, broadcast times, and which candidates will make the cut.


  1. It is ironic how the press still omits “DARK HORSE” Candidates. The 2016 Presidential Primary in New Hampshire was interesting. After O’Malley withdrew, who was 3rd in the largest City, Manchester? Oh, yes, that was THISTLE. No Public Speaking events, and only $1,000 spent on State Registration Ballot Fees. The USA is NOT For Sale! OUR CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER THISTLE 2020. https://youtu.be/hmu1krE0y2Y WALLS or WINDMILLS, The People should decide the fate of your children’s future this Election.

  2. This is an example of why liberals fail. They make rules, but if anyone objects, they change the rules. And it won’t help.

    The new rules will focus on who won in Iowa, but not New Hampshire. You can be sure that Tulsi fans will be vocal. She has been “living” in New Hampshire, hoping to surprise everyone. If Iowa matters for this debate, then NH should matter, even though it would require a last minute chaos to make it work..

    • Would she attend even if she qualified? She said she would skip the December debate even if she qualified, which she didn’t.

      • It’s easy to skip an event you have no chance of being invited to. Sour grapes.

        She’s imitating Trump, who also refused to debate. But my guess is that if she qualified, even at the last minute, she’d say, “oh, ok, if you insist!” She can do more damage on the stage.

        • Tulsi may be the last hope that the Democrats have. Against any other Democrat it will be the first ever electoral college shut out in the upcoming general election by President Trump.?

          If the Democrats run Tulsi against President Trump they won’t be completely shut out, she will at least win Hawaii.?

          Go Tulsi, go.?

    • As I mentioned in a post of mine to a previous article because of the appalling lack of diversity in the next Democratic primary there will be at least one spot secured for an Affirmative Action candidate. It doesn’t really matter if the electorate supports this candidate, for the Democratic party it is more show over substance.?

    • I think you all are going to be surprised in New Hampshire. Family 1st. OUR CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER.

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