Democrats just made it harder for Booker to qualify for December presidential debate

Updated Oct 25, 2019

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has yet to get more than 3 percent support in most polls of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. But he will have to poll at least 4 percent in four different surveys over the next two months if he is to reach the stage for the party’s December debate.

The Democratic National Committee said Friday that candidates wishing to qualify for the Dec. 19 debate at the University of California, Los Angeles must receive at least 4 percent in at least four polls conducted nationally or in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Candidates can also qualify by polling at least 6 percent in two surveys in the early states.

Booker sits at 2 percent in the Real Clear Politics national poll average and below 4 percent in the poll average in all four states.

Candidates also must receive contributions from at least 200,000 separate individuals.

They have until Dec. 12 to meet both thresholds for the debate, to be sponsored by the PBS Newshour and Politico.

In a fundraising email sent shortly after the new requirements were announced, Booker said 178,378 individuals already had given to his campaign.

“This is a crowded Democratic primary, and debates offer some of the only opportunities for an underdog campaign like ours to break through — to get a chance to compete on a level playing field with those other campaigns that are raising tens of millions of dollars,” he wrote, seeking the additional 21,622 new donors he needed to meet that threshold.

Despite Booker’s strong performances in the earlier debates, he has yet to gain traction in the presidential race. In a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, he said that his campaign organization and endorsements in the early primary and caucus states count a lot more than low numbers in early opinion polls.

Booker is one of nine candidates so far who have qualified for the Nov. 20 debate in Georgia, according to FiveThirtyEight. Candidates had to poll at least 3 percent in four national or early state surveys and obtain contributions from at least 165,000 individual donors.

Twelve candidates were on stage on Oct. 15.

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