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A Supersize Debate: Here Are The 12 Democrats Who Made The October Cutoff

From left to right: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg.
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From left to right: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg.

A dozen candidates have qualified for the fourth Democratic presidential debate. They will appear together on one night, making the October faceoff the most crowded yet.

The 12 White House hopefuls who met the polling and fundraising requirements set by the Democratic National Committee are former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; billionaire businessman and activist Tom Steyer; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Steyer and Gabbard did not qualify in time to make the September debate stage but have since met the requirements to appear on Oct. 15 near Columbus, Ohio, with the 10 candidates from the last debate.

The DNC requirements were the same last month as they are now — candidates had to register at least 2% in four early state or national polls and acquire 130,000 unique donors. Though Steyer and Gabbard hit those marks over the last month, seven Democrats still in the race failed to qualify.


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The hosts of the debate, CNN and The New York Times, will hold the event on one night instead of two, even though the number participating now exceeds the previous 10-candidate threshold set by the DNC. In June and July, two debate nights were held each time to accompany all the candidates, but this time the stage will just grow larger, instead of being used over two nights with six candidates each.

Expect the debate casts to shrink greatly going forward. The DNC announced last month that it was raising the requirements yet again to qualify for the November debate. Candidates have to hit 3% in four early state or national polls, in addition to amassing 165,000 donors.

So far, just five candidates fulfill both those qualifications: Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders and Warren.

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Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.