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The DNC just said how it will pick candidates to be in presidential debates

The DNC is preparing for an onslaught of presidential candidates.

DNC Chair Tom Perez speaks to a crowd of supporters at a Democratic unity rally at the Rail Event Center on April 21, 2017.
George Frey/Getty Images

Democrats are facing a potential debate caucus with 10 major candidates already announced for president and 20 or so other potential hopefuls waiting in the wings. But the DNC has a plan.

This afternoon, the DNC announced its criteria for how 2020 candidates will qualify for its first debates this summer. In addition to a candidate’s polling, the DNC will prioritize accepting candidates who have shown they can raise money from grassroots donors.

“Because campaigns are won on the strength of their grassroots, we also updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a statement.

The first and second debates of the 2020 primary will be hosted by NBC and CNN, and will happen this June and July. They’ll be the first of a total of 12 debates, which Perez announced earlier this year.

In order to qualify for debates, candidates will need:

  • To register 1 percent or more support in three polls between January 1 and two weeks before the debate. These polls don’t necessarily have to be national polls; public polls in the first four primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada also qualify. But they have to be done by major news organizations or qualifying universities.
  • The DNC is also trying to incentivize grassroots donations. Candidates can qualify for the debates if they show their campaign has received donations from at least 65,000 unique donors and a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 US states.

The DNC is also preparing for a scenario in which there are more than 20 candidates that qualify for a single debate. If that happens, the top 20 candidates will be selected using a methodology that favors candidates that meet both the polling and grassroots donations thresholds. That will be followed by the highest polling average, which will followed by the most unique donors, according to the DNC.

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