Likely field for next Dem debate narrows to 10

The Sept. 12 Democratic debate lineup has been set, with the large field slimmed down to 10 candidates sharing a single stage, based on criteria set by the Democratic National Committee.

The lineup that will gather in Houston consists of former Vice President Joe Biden; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said late on Wednesday she would drop out of the race as a result of failing to qualify. Ten other Democrats are still running, including author Marianne Williamson and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, but face long odds.

ABC News had said that if more than 10 candidates qualified, it would split the field into two nights with the contenders randomly assigned. Billionaire investor Tom Steyer and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii both reached the threshold of 130,000 donors but fell, respectively, one and two surveys short of the polling requirement of 2 percent support in at least four recognized polls. The DNC had set a deadline of midnight Wednesday, Aug. 28, for qualifying. Two new polls were released Wednesday morning, but Steyer and Gabbard didn’t hit 2 percent in either of them.

Those who failed to qualify for September’s debate will still have an opportunity to make the stage in October.

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July 2019 Democratic debate
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July 2019 Democratic debate
Workers get the stage ready for the Democratic primary debate hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Chair of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez speaks ahead of the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Chair of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez speaks ahead of the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Crews prepare the stage for the second Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidates debate in the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic Debate 2019 live updates: Night 1 of the debates is underway (ABC News)
Democratic Debate 2019 live updates: Candidates pivot to immigration and border crossings (ABC News)
As with the first debates, 10 Democrats will appear on the first night while the other 10 will appear on the second night.
As with the first debates, 10 Democrats will appear on the first night while the other 10 will appear on the second night.
From left, Marianne Williamson, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock participate in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
From left, Marianne Williamson, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock participate in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke spekas as former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper listens during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg listens during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Author Marianne Williamson speaks during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper watches as former Maryland Rep. John Delaney speaks during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, participates in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Bernie Sanders Invokes Donald Trump’s “Racism And Xenophobia” At Democratic Debate
Democratic presidential hopefuls (L-R) US senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders and US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren relax during a commercial break in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls (L-R) US senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders and US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren relax during a commercial break in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls (L-R) US author and writer Marianne Williamson and US Representative for Ohio's 13th congressional district Tim Ryan participate in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopeful US senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders looks on after participating in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., takes notes during a break in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Marianne Williamson participates in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke gives a thumbs up during a break in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Marianne Williamson and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, participate in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. talk during a break in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopeful US senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders delivers his closing statement during the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren delivers her closing statement in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar delivers her closing statement during the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders leaves the stage after the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls US senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders (L) and US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren hug after participating in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls (fromL) US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren hugs US author and writer Marianne Williamson next to US Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg after participating in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders greets audience members after the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
From left, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg talk after the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren leaves the stage after the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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DNC Chair Tom Perez has made it clear that the bar for entry will continue to rise, which means that October’s debates could be the last for many of the candidates. The current standards for the September and October fields are both 130,000 donors and four qualifying polls, up from the 65,000 donors or 1 percent in three polls that allowed candidates into the first two rounds of debates.

The biggest storyline next month will likely be Warren, who has traded second place with Sanders over the past month, sharing the stage with the frontrunner, Biden. The two appeared on different nights in the split debates held in June and July. They have a long history of disputes over bankruptcy law that predate Warren’s time in the Senate. Warren also had contemporaneous issues with a number of decisions made by the Obama White House, including the bank bailout and trade policy, but will have to balance criticism of Biden with Obama’s sky-high approval rating among Democrats. She also will be facing Harris directly for the first time. The California senator’s performance in the first debate won her a bump in polling, but that has since faded.

The DNC’s process has been criticized by many of the candidates who failed to qualify for this round of debates. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock knocked Steyer’s massive spending on social media, which helped him reach the donor threshold.

“We’re kidding ourselves if we’re calling a $10 million purchase of 130,000 donors a demonstration of grassroots support,” Bullock said. “It’s not serving the candidates, and it sure isn’t helping the voters who will actually decide this election.”

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado said the DNC was stifling debate and rewarding “celebrity candidates,” although it was unclear which of the 10 qualified candidates — including nine sitting or former Democratic officials and an entrepreneur running on universal basic income — he was referring to as celebrities. Bennet participated in the first two debates, but his centrist messaging did not earn him a meaningful boost in polling or donations.

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July Democratic debate part 2
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July Democratic debate part 2
Democratic debates 2019 Live Updates: Booker interrupted by protesters; Biden tells Harris 'go easy on me kid' (ABC News)
From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stand for the National Anthem as they are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, participates in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Cory Booker Interrupted by Protesters at Democratic Debate
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Vice President Joe Biden are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., shake hands before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) listens during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) takes the stage at the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US entrepreneur Andrew Yang delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand delivers her opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee listens as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
From left, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
A protester yells during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and former Vice President Joe Biden (R) speak during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from California Kamala Harris gestures as she speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester unfurls a banner as Democratic presidential hopefuls participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester leaves the Fox theatre after being escorted out for interrupting the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from Colorado Michael Bennet speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls Governor of Washington Jay Inslee (L) and Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee gestures as he speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker speaks as former Vice President Joe Biden gestures on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee chat during a break in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopefuls US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker (L), US Senator from California Kamala Harris (C) and Former Vice President Joe Biden shake hands after the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (2nd L), and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (2nd R) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (R) greet each other after the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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“It’s up to the candidates, at a certain point, to demonstrate that they’re gaining traction,” said Perez in response to the complaints. “I’ve heard criticism that the grassroots fundraising threshold forced people to spend money digitally. Well, Mayor Pete didn’t have to spend much money.”

Three candidates who were going to miss the debate stage dropped out in August: Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Inslee and Moulton are intending to run for reelection in 2020, while Hickenlooper has shifted his focus to Republican Cory Gardner’s Senate seat, also up in November of next year.

Previous debates haven’t had much lasting impact on the polls, but things could change with all the top candidates on the same stage. The last round of national polling has shown similar results, with Biden comfortably in first and Sanders and Warren the nearest competitors. Harris and Buttigieg have seen their polling slump, with neither cracking double digits in a DNC-approved national poll since Harris reached 12 percent in a Quinnipiac survey in late July. O’Rourke’s candidacy has also flagged, trailing Yang in all three polls released this week.

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