Things are really about to get interesting when it comes to debates involving the Democratic presidential candidates.
It was easy to dismiss how much the debates held last summer and fall were going to influence the election, given there were 20 candidates and primaries were still months away.
That isn’t the case anymore.
When the next debate is held on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa, it will take place less than three weeks from the Iowa Caucus on Feb. 3, with the New Hampshire primary slated for Feb. 11.
There will only be six candidates on stage now as the Democratic National Committee increasingly raises its polling and donor standards for the 13 remaining candidates. The DNC required that candidates reach 5% in four approved polls or 7% in two early state polls, and to collect money from at least 225,000 donors.
Here’s an overview of where the Democrats stand with primary season almost here.
Candidates who qualified for debate
Those who will appear on stage will be former vice president Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and environmentalist Tom Steyer.
When it comes to the Iowa Caucus, it’s a close race, but a poll released Friday shows that Sanders has taken a slight lead.
Sanders had a poll figure of 20%, ahead of Warren, who was next at 17%. Buttigieg came in at 16% while Biden was at 15%.
Nationally, the polling still favors Biden.
Biden was first in polls released last week by Harvard-Harris (30%), Economist/YouGov (27%) and Morning Consult (31%).
Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren are right behind in what’s being deemed by many as a four-candidate race.
Klobuchar didn’t have much trouble getting the necessary donors and polling figures to qualify for the debate, but she still is lagging far behind the other four in polling.
Steyer qualified for the debate at the last minute before Friday’s deadline because he earned double-digit polling figures in South Carolina and Nevada.
On the outside looking in
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard didn’t reach the necessary polling and donor figures to qualify and will have to join others around the country in watching the debate on TV.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker dropped out of the race Monday.
Yang and Gabbard are still fighting hard and hopeful to sway voters, but the polling numbers don’t look good.
None of those candidates registered above 4% in any of the three national polls released last week.
Lots of ground to makeup
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick each waited until November to announced themselves as candidates, way after their counterparts who were already debating each other last summer.
Bloomberg in particular has spent a lot of his money on TV ads trying to make up for lost time, but is still lagging far behind the top four candidates.
Patrick has barely garnered any support at all in polling.
The end is likely near
This arguably applies to any candidate not named Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg or Warren, but it especially rings true for Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.
Delaney, the first candidate to declare back in July 2017, hasn’t qualified for a debate since the second one in July.
Bennet hasn’t made much progress in the polls since declaring his candidacy in May.
Neither Delaney or Bennet earned a figure for the latest Iowa Caucus poll.
Philanthropist Marianne Williamson officially dropped out of the race Friday.
7th Democratic debate at a glance
When: 9 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa
Hosts: CNN/Des Moines Register
Moderators: Wolf Blitzer and Abby Philip of CNN, Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register
Overview: There will be six candidates appearing on stage who qualified based on criteria set by the Democratic National Committee in what will be the final debate before the Iowa Caucus on Feb. 3. Candidates had to reach 5% in four approved polls or 7% in two early state polls, and to collect money from at least 225,000 donors.
The candidates who will appear are former vice president Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and environmentalist Tom Steyer.
Sanders enters the debate as the frontrunner to win the Iowa Caucus based on a poll released on Friday, with Warren, Buttigieg and Biden not far behind.