The Democratic presidential candidates are heading west for December’s sixth round of primary debates.
And the thresholds for the White House contenders to make the debate stage are once again rising.
The Democratic National Committee on Friday announced that the debate will be held on Dec. 19 in Los Angeles at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. The DNC said that PBS NewsHour and Politico will co-host the showdown.
The debate will be the first held on the West Coast, and specifically California. The Golden State is playing a larger role this cycle in determining the Democratic presidential nominee. California moved up the date of its primary and will be the largest of the 15 states scheduled to vote on Super Tuesday, which will be held on March 3 of next year.
To make the cut for the Dec. 19 debate, candidates must now receive at least 4 percent support in at least four qualifying national polls or surveys in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina – or hit at least 6 percent in two qualifying polls in the early voting states. Only polls released between Oct. 16 and Dec. 12 will be considered.
The DNC is also upping the fundraising threshold. Candidates will now have to hit campaign contributions from at least 200,000 individual donors – with a minimum of 800 unique contributors in at least 20 states or the District of Columbia.
The candidates have until Dec. 12 – one week before the debate – to hit the fundraising and polling criteria.
Nine candidates out of the remaining field of roughly 17 Democratic White House contenders say they’ve hit the lower thresholds to make the stage for next month’s fifth-round debate, which will be held Nov. 20 in Georgia. They are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, businessman and progressive advocate Tom Steyer, and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Three candidates who reached the October debate stage are at risk of not qualifying for the November showdown. They are Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro of Texas, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, also of Texas.
The DNC’s qualifying criteria have been repeatedly criticized by many of the middle- and lower-tier candidates for months. Activists also argue that the job of narrowing the field belongs to the voters in the early-voting states rather than with national party leaders.
Pushing back against the criticism, DNC Chairman Tom Perez told Fox News in September that the process has been “eminently fair” and added “we’re going “to continue to be transparent.”