The sprawling Democratic field has winnowed slightly with the departures of Inslee and Hickenlooper. But there are still 22 Democrats running – and less than half have met the fundraising and polling threshhold to qualify for the third debate in Houston next month.
The urgent question now is who will be the next to go?
Ten candidate will appear on stage in Houston, including Julián Castro who just qualified this week thanks to a new CNN poll showing him at 2% nationally.
The other top tier candidates to make the cut – and are therefore less likely to drop out anytime soon – are: former vice president Joe Biden, senator Bernie Sanders, senator Elizabeth Warren, senator Kamala Harris, senator Cory Booker, mayor Pete Buttigieg, senator Amy Klobuchar, former congressman Beto O’Rourke and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
To qualify, the Democratic candidates must receive at least 130,000 contributions from individual donors and earned 2% support in at least four acceptable polls.
Billionaire Tom Steyer, the field’s most recent entrant, is one poll away from making the debate stage while Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard needs two more polls. New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand is just shy of the contributions threshold and still needs three more polls and self-help guru Marianne Williamson has enough contributors but needs to raise her polling numbers.
The cutoff date for the Houston debate – and a separate CNN town hall on climate change ahead of the debate – is 28 August. For candidates who have failed to break through and are struggling to raise money that might just be the end of the road.
The possibilities include Gabbard, congressmen Seth Moulton and Tim Ryan, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Montana governor Steve Bullock.
Former congressman John Delaney, who is self-funding his campaign, has not seen his numbers move, even after being given a relatively long time to make his case for a moderate healthcare plan during the last debate. Meanwhile, Williamson has had several break out moments on the debate stage to become an instant online meme, but it hasn’t translated into hard support.
There are also other considerations to take into account. Of the candidates who have dropped out, congressman Eric Swalwell, Hickenlooper and Inslee, all dropped out to turn their attention to home state races for House, Senate and the Governor’s mansion, respectively. Would Bullock leave to run for senate in Montana as he’s been encouraged to? Likewise, O’Rourke is being urged to abandon his presidential ambitions and run for Senate in Texas.