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)
Time: To be determined
Date: 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.
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.