Democratic Debate Schedule: When Is the Next Debate? How Many Are Left?


The fifth Democratic debate is tonight. But we’re just partway through the journey of debates, as candidates hope to win the Democratic primary nomination. Meanwhile, the qualifications to be in the debates are getting tougher each time. Here’s a look at what we know so far about the next debate and how many are left.

The Next Democratic Debate Is in December with Stricter Qualifications


Tonight is the fifth debate, hosted by The Washington Post and MSNBC. The fourth debate was hosted by CNN. The September debate was hosted by ABC and Univision. The DNC skipped August, but the July debates were hosted by CNN (yes, CNN’s hosted twice) and the first debates in June were hosted by NBC. But what happens after tonight? The schedule will be packed for a while.

The next debate – the sixth round – will take place next month on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles. It will be hosted by Politico and PBS. Because the requirements are getting stricter, it’s possible we’ll have fewer candidates on the debate stage again. From here on out, we won’t likely see another debate round where there are two nights of debates.

The qualifications are stricter for this next one. A candidate must get at least 4 percent in four qualifying polls (nationally or in early voting states)  between October 16 and December 12, or at least 6 percent in two early state polls (that’s Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada.) They must also have donations from at least 200,000 unique donors, which includes 800 unique donors in at least 20 states.

From now on, there will be one debate every month until April 2020. Yes, that means you’ll get to watch a debate in January 2020, February 2020, March 2020, and April 2020. This means that after tonight, there are still five Democratic debates to go.

The requirements to qualify for the November debate were stricter, and next month’s are stricter too. To qualify for tonight’s debate, candidates had to poll at 3 percent or higher for four qualifying early-state or national polls, or they must poll at 5 percent or higher in two early-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina. They must also receive donations from 165,000 unique donors, which includes at least 600 individual donors in at least 20 states.

Qualifying polls are limited to the following sponsors, according to Ballotpedia:

  • Associated Press
  • ABC News/Washington Post
  • CBS News/YouGov
  • CNN
  • Des Moines Register
  • Fox News
  • Monmouth University
  • National Public Radio
  • NBC News/Wall Street Journal
  • NBC News/Marist
  • New York Times
  • Quinnipiac University
  • University of New Hampshire
  • USA Today/Suffolk University
  • Winthrop University

So far, six have qualified for December, according to The Washington Post. These are Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren.

It’s likely that the DNC will raise the qualifying threshold again in January if too many qualify for December.

We don’t know who is hosting the future debates from January on, where they’ll take place, or who will be in them yet. But it’s going to be a packed and busy schedule for the remaining Democratic primary candidates. At this point in time, anyone could end up coming out on top.

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