The Democratic National Committee on Monday released new criteria to qualify for the fifth presidential primary debate, which will make it harder for low-polling candidates, such as Hawaii’s own U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, to make the November debate stage.

Candidates will have to have the backing of least 165,000 unique donors, including a minimum of 600 donors per state in at least 20 states.

That’s up from the current level of 130,000 donors needed for the October debates.

As well, candidates have to register at least 3% in four or more qualifying polls or 5% in two single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada.

That’s up from the current 2% polling requirement in four DNC-approved national or early-state polls.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announces her run for president.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard formally announced her run for president in Waikiki in February.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

FiveThirtyEight reported Monday that Gabbard needs just one more qualifying poll by Oct. 1 to make the debate stage next month.

“By our count, she has gotten 2 percent or more in three approved polls (including the recent Selzer’s poll in Iowa), and her campaign says it has already hit the fundraising thresholds,” said FiveThirtyEight.

The New York Times also reported Monday that Gabbard is close to making the cut. Thus far, 11 candidates have qualified for the October debate.

Gabbard, meanwhile, has continued to criticize the DNC’s debate criteria, saying it lacks transparency and suggesting it is part of a broader conspiracy.

Civil Beat reached out to Gabbard’s presidential campaign for comment on the new rules but has yet to receive a response.

The first October Democratic presidential primary debate will take place in Ohio on Oct. 15, “with a potential second debate the following night if enough candidates qualify,” says CNN.

The winnowing of the Democratic field — down to 19 candidates from more than two dozen — comes as the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary in early- and mid-February, respectively, near.

Support local journalism

Studies have shown that when local journalism disappears, government financing costs go up, fewer people run for public office, elected officials become less responsive to their constituents, and voter turnout decreases. Our small nonprofit newsroom works hard every day to present local news in a deep and transparent way, without fear or favor. We also rely on donations from readers like you to keep us afloat. The more support we receive; the stronger, more sustainable our journalism becomes; the more accountable we are to you. Please consider supporting our Honolulu Civil Beat with a tax-deductible gift.

About the Authors