Democrats appeared headed for a single night’s debate next month among 10 presidential hopefuls following the release Wednesday of two polls that did not help any additional candidates qualify for a spot on the stage in Houston.
The two polls – both of which showed former vice president Joe Biden holding a significant lead – were released on the final day for candidates to meet a combination of polling and fundraising requirements set by the Democratic National Committee that are more stringent than for the first two debates.
A formal announcement of qualifiers for the Sept 12 debate is expected Thursday. For other candidates to qualify, another poll would have to surface by the end of the day Wednesday.
Besides Biden, those who have qualified for the stage include Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; former congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
If additional candidates qualify, the field would be split over two nights for the debate being hosted by ABC News. Before Wednesday, 10 candidates had previously qualified by receiving donations from at least 130,000 people and ranking at 2% or better in four DNC-sanctioned polls.
With the more stringent rules, several Democratic candidates who participated in June and July debates appear shut out of a spot on the September stage: Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; former congressman John Delaney of Maryland; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; and author Marianne Williamson. Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who did not participate in the earlier debates, would need one more poll putting him at 2% to qualify for the September debate.
Candidates will have more time to qualify for an October debate, which will operate under the same rules.
The USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll released Wednesday morning showed Biden leading the Democratic field, with the support of 32% of likely voters. He was followed by Warren with 14% and Sanders, with 12%.
Five other candidates received support of 2% or more: Buttigieg and Harris, both with 6%; Yang, with 3%; and O’Rourke and Booker, both at 2%.
The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Biden leading the pack with 32% of Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic. He was followed by Warren at 19%, Sanders at 15%, Harris at 7%, Buttigieg at 5%and Yang at 3%. No other candidate topped 1%.
The results of the two polls released Wednesday morning were different from a national Democratic primary poll from Monmouth University released Monday that found a virtual three-way tie between Biden, Warren and Sanders.